In New Jersey Student Loan Program, Even Death May Not Bring a Reprieve
Amid a haze of grief after her son’s unsolved murder last year, Marcia DeOliveira-Longinetti faced an endless list of tasks — helping the police gain access to Kevin’s phone and email; canceling his subscriptions, credit cards and bank accounts; and arranging his burial in New Jersey.
And then there were the college loans.
When Ms. DeOliveira-Longinetti called about his federal loans, an administrator offered condolences and assured her the balance would be written off.
But she got a far different response from a New Jersey state agency that had also lent her son money.
“Please accept our condolences on your loss,” a letter from that agency, the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority, said. “After careful consideration of the information you provided, the authority has determined that your request does not meet the threshold for loan forgiveness. Monthly bill statements will continue to be sent to you.”
Ms. DeOliveira-Longinetti, who co-signed on the loans, was shocked and confused. But her experience with the authority, which runs by far the largest state-based student loan program in the country, is hardly an isolated one, an investigation by ProPublica, in collaboration with The New York Times, found.