When my son Donte Newsome was murdered on July 5, 2008, it felt like everything I had was taken away from me. Then a company called First Marblehead Corporation showed me how wrong I was.
Donte received two private student loans in college. Before my husband Bruce cosigned his loans, we asked the lender to explain the loan's terms. But they never told us that in the event of my son's death we would be forced to take on his debt. Regular student loans backed by the federal government don't treat families this way, and I didn't know that many private students lenders don't offer the same terms.
Shortly after Donte died, that's when the collection calls started. It was like a punch in the gut -- we didn't know what hit us. All of a sudden we not only had to deal with the police and attorneys investigating his murder, but we also had to deal with collectors constantly calling and reminding us of our son's death in the worst way.
These loans have become a financial hardship for my family, and our lives have been changed forever. We have pleaded with American Education Services, the servicer for First Marblehead, to forgive the loans. But First Marblehead has refused to forgive Donte's student debt. The student loan debt, which is now showing on Bruce's credit report, can seriously affect his job and career.
This issue doesn't just impact me -- it affects countless families who lose a son or a daughter too soon. This is why I'm calling on First Marblehead Corporation to forgive my son's debt, and to adopt a policy of debt forgiveness when a loan's primary borrower dies. Thank you for your support.
In doing so, you would bring your policy in line with a growing number of private student lenders, such as Wells Fargo, Sallie Mae, and Key Bank.
I urge you to immediately do the right thing for Donte Newsome's family, and every other family that meets such terrible tragedy.