A California couple is facing a huge debt of $200,000 after their 27-year old daughter, Lisa Mason, suddenly died of liver failure in 2009.
Pastor Steve Mason and his wife Darnelle Mason have been left with the responsibility of caring for their daughter’s three children and a student loan bill of $2,000 a month.
Because the couple is unable to legally declare bankruptcy to dissolve the huge debt, Steve Mason, 59, and his wife, have reached their wit’s end. Each time they’ve appealed to the lenders to beg for relief, they were told the only solution is to repay the loans in full, some of which have an interest rate of 12 percent.
As if the hefty student loan debt wasn’t enough of a burden for the couple to carry, they also have the responsibility of caring for their three grandchildren. They are the guardians of daughter Lisa’s three children, ages 9, 12, and 14. Their financial struggle has left their futures in the balance.
Prior to her death, Lisa Mason had taken out $100,000 in private student loans to fund nursing school and father Steve had co-signed on them. In the five years since her passing, her parents’ inability to keep up with the payments has caused the sum owed to double to $200,000 due to high interest rates and late-fee penalties.
“It’s just impossible on a pastor’s salary raising three kids to pay $2,000 a month on loans,” said Mason, who is now searching for a second job.
Had they been federal student loans, Steve could have appealed to have them forgiven or received a manageable payment plan. However, private lenders are not bound by law to provide assistance to those with financial difficulties.
“People with other debt from splurging — they can discharge that. Student loans should really be the one type of debt they do discharge because it’s done to further an education and career. But somehow getting my daughter an education has encumbered me for the rest of my life,” says Mason.
The Masons have started a Change.org petition to allow student loans to be discharged in bankruptcy cases.
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