Can My Social Security Be Garnished For My Grandson's Student Loans?


Can my Social Security be Garnished for my Grandson's Student Loans?

The good news is, a private student loan lender or servicer cannot garnish your social security.


Dear Kim,

Six years ago, I co-signed for my grandson's student loans. He went to a very expensive school that required him to take out a number of private and federal loans.  He has been unable to find consistent work since graduation and has been using what little income he has been receiving to pay his federal loans. I received a phone call from one of the private student loan lenders advising me that they are going to garnish my wages for nonpayment of the student loan. I am 82 years old and my only source of income is social security, which does not go very far. Can they garnish my social security check?

Thank you,


Dear Malcolm,

I am sorry to hear that your grandson is struggling to find consistent work. Co-signing for a loan can be risky. When co-signing for a loan, you are declaring that you will take 100% of the repayment responsibility, if the account holder defaults. In this case, when you signed the loan documents, you took the responsibility to pay this loan back if your grandson could not. The good news is, a private student loan lender or servicer cannot garnish your social security.  However, they can pursue you to pay the debt. This includes letters and phone calls and even the possibility of taking you to court.

Your grandson does have alternatives, which I think he should explore. Federal student loans have numerous repayment options. These options will be based on the type of loan, amount borrowed and his current income. He may find that by taking advantage of a different repayment option, he will have funds to apply to the private loans, therefore relieving you of the burden. Due to the complexity of the re-payment options and possible escalation of the collection efforts, I feel the best option is to have your grandson speak with a student loan counselor.

A Student Loan Counselor will provide a comprehensive financial counseling session with a focus on the student loans. Student Loan Counselors have expertise in the federal loan repayment options and will review the best solutions for your grandson. He can reach a student loan counselor at 1-800-922-4557. I wish you both all the best.

Thank you!


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Kim Cole is the Education Outreach Coordinator for Navicore Solutions. Kim provides financial education workshops and seminars to communities. Readers can submit general questions relating to personal finance, credit scoring, debt management, student loans, home finance or bankruptcy which may be highlighted in the next month's edition. All identifying information will be kept anonymous.

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