student loans

6 sneaky ways students land in loan trouble

I co-signed a loan for an ex who won't pay
I co-signed a loan for an ex who won't pay © Sinisa Bobic/Shutterstock.com

Regardless of how your relationship with the borrower changes, if you co-sign for a private loan (federal loans don't require co-signers), you're still on the hook until it's paid off, says Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of the college finance sites FinAid.org and Fastweb.com.

"A co-signer is a co-borrower, equally obligated to repay the debt," he says. "It shows up on your credit report as your debt. If the primary borrower is late with a payment, it shows up as a delinquent payment on your credit report."

That means if you're a co-signer and the borrower defaults on their loan, you'll need to either pay off the loan yourself or suffer the consequences, which may include late fees, collection costs, a hit to your credit score, wage garnishment or court expenses.

Some lenders do offer co-signer releases, though they're typically only granted if the borrower can prove they can financially handle payments for the remainder of the loan. Eligibility requirements vary from lender to lender.

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