If my son has private student loans with his grandmother as co-signer, how responsible is she?

She is on SS with no other income. He is having trouble paying the loans. They are private loans. Can they garnish my mothers SS? She has no assets.

Asked on June 18, 2012 under Bankruptcy Law, Florida


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

A co-signor is fully as liable or responsible for the loans as the signor--the lender could seek repayment of any outstanding balance, up to and including the full amount of the loan, from your mother if your son defaults (fails to pay).

Social security is not subject to garnishment by a private lender, so as long as these were not federally back, guaranteed, provided, etc. loans, she should be safe from garnishment. Note that just because the actual SS check cannot be garnished is not complete protection, however: once money is in the bank, in her account, it loses its protection. So if she maintains a positive balance of funds in an account, it could be potentially be levied upon, even if its source was social security.

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