N.J.'s Menendez pushes measure to protect student loan borrowers

N.J.'s Menendez pushes measure to protect student loan borrowers

By:  Jonathan D. Salant

After Christopher Bryski, a Rutgers University student from Marlton, passed away after two years in a coma, his parents received another shock: His student loan was in default and they had to pay it off immediately. Under federal law, lenders can immediately collect if a loan co-signer dies.

U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) proposed legislation Wednesday to change the practice. U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-9th Dist.) will introduce a similar bill in the House.

"Christopher's Law" would prohibit lenders from immediately collecting on a loan if regular payments are being made, even if the signer or co-signer dies. In some cases, students are forced to pay up immediately because the person who co-signed their loan, an elderly parent or grandparent passes away.

"Middle-class families like Christopher's should not have to endure the devastating loss of a child only to learn they must also face the financial hardship of a huge student loan debt," said Menendez, a member of the Senate Banking Committee. "And if a student hasn't missed a payment and their loan is in good standing, there is absolutely no reason for a lender to put the loan into default because tragedy strikes.''

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