REDLANDS (CBSLA.com) — When 27-year-old Lisa Mason lost her battle with liver cancer in 2009, her three young children became the responsibility of her parents — along with a tremendous student loan debt.
Pastor Steve Mason and his wife, in addition to inheriting the job of full-time parents once again, took on their daughter's $200,000 student loan debt, which she had taken out to study to become a nurse.
"At my stage of life, when I should be thinking about retirement, we're going to parent-teacher conferences again," Steve said.
Lisa's student loans are being managed by Navient Corp. and American Education Services. The Masons said that while Navient lowered their balance, American Education Services did not.
"We understood co-signing would make us responsible if she was unwilling to make the payments," Steve said. "We didn't think it would carry on if she was unable to make the payments because of her death."
Bankruptcy, meanwhile, is not an option, since both loans are reportedly private loans.
"I couldn't have imagined that we're still going to be held liable for this," Darnelle Mason said. "And they all said, 'There's just nothing we can do.' "
The Masons say they are cutting costs dramatically in an attempt to make ends meet, and they have some advice for other families looking to take out student loans.
"First of all, be informed, do the research," Steve said. "We were kind of naive when we were signing the student loans for her."
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