I’m 60 years old. Got my masters degree finally. Now i cannot find a job. No one would hire me. I applied 1000 applications. Still no luck. I have $10,000 student loan. How to handle this? I live with my daughter in her house and she provides for me.

Question: will the government come after my daughter to pay for me?
What will happen if I don’t pay?
What is the best course of actions?

  • 3
    No idea how it works in the USA, but here in the UK you don't have to repay your student loan until your salary is above a certain threshold and even then the amount you have to repay is dependent on your income Commented Dec 17, 2021 at 13:15
  • 11
    @AdamBurley: The US is not like the UK Commented Dec 17, 2021 at 15:26
  • Also worth speaking to the student loan company to see if they will pause your repayments until you find a job. Commented Dec 17, 2021 at 20:16
  • I am not familiar enough with US law to make an answer, but one thing I would be concerned about is seizure of personal property. If they try to collect on the debt in that way, you might end up having to prove that items in the house are your daughter's property and not your own. Commented Dec 17, 2021 at 23:33
  • 1
    @TomvanderZanden That's not a thing in the U.S. Student loans are generally uncollateralized and, even if they were collateralized, collateral for a loan would be for particular things (for example, your car in the case of a car loan or your house in the case of a home mortgage.) No one can just show up and start taking random stuff for any sort of loan, though, and student loans usually have no collateral at all.
    – reirab
    Commented Dec 18, 2021 at 21:58

4 Answers 4


Short answer: No
Your daughter is not liable for the student loan debt unless she co-signed for it. Also, she can not inherit the debt, but the government CAN make a claim on your estate and take it out of her inheritance (if there is any).

Consequences of not paying are worse if it is a government loan, because (of course) the Government gave itself special "powers" for collecting debt owed to itself.

  1. It will hurt your credit, and will not come off your credit report until you pay it, unlike other negative credit entries which go away after 7 years. This debt also is very hard/impossible to dismiss even in bankruptcy.

  2. They can garnish your wages, tax refund, or social security check.

  3. They can take you to court and sue you for the money (more unlikely with Government loans)

  • 3
    While this sounds correct, I would stress out more the "the government CAN make a claim on your estate and take it out of her inheritance", which I think it actually hits the mark. TBH this is not a "No". This is more like a "No, but…".
    – o0'.
    Commented Dec 16, 2021 at 15:17
  • 16
    @o0'. It does not sound like the OP has much of an estate to inherit.
    – gerrit
    Commented Dec 16, 2021 at 15:40
  • 5
    "Can't get blood from a stone" seems apt.
    – Barmar
    Commented Dec 16, 2021 at 15:42
  • 3
    Debts can't be inherited. So while that may be true, it is not unique to these loans.
    – JohnFx
    Commented Dec 16, 2021 at 20:18
  • 2
    @JohnFx Debts cannot be inherited, but they can certainly be deducted from the estate which would otherwise be inherited (as a general principle; I have no idea about possible exceptions for US government student loans specifically).
    – JBentley
    Commented Dec 16, 2021 at 20:36

Question: will the government come after my daughter to pay for me?

They cannot unless she co-signed your loan.

Now, if your loan were to be submitted to a debt collector then that debt collector will use any and all tactics to extract money from you or your family. They don't care who pays as long as they receive money. Even if she's not legally liable there is nothing stopping the debt collector from making her feel otherwise.

  • 15
    "there is nothing stopping the debt collector from making her feel otherwise" Of course there is something preventing a debt collector from asking random people for money - FDCPA 15 U.S.C. § 1692b(3/5) for example.
    – Mark
    Commented Dec 16, 2021 at 20:49
  • 10
    @Mark "Hello, is debtor's name home?" - "No, can I take a message?" - "Sure, please have debtor call 555-5555." - "Okay, but this is the 5th call this week, what's this about?" - "An unpaid debt". The rest is a string of inquiries and anxiety which could lead to the daughter wanting to resolve the debt voluntarily.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Commented Dec 16, 2021 at 20:55
  • 3
    I won't deny that it can work and that debt collectors are a tricky bunch, but that's not the same as "nothing stopping them" when there are laws doing exactly that.
    – Mark
    Commented Dec 16, 2021 at 20:59
  • 4
    FDCPA does in fact have a relevance to making your relatives feel that they should pay --- it's called harassment, $1k a pop if the collector is sued, and that's just the statutory damages. consumer.ftc.gov/articles/debt-collection-faqs :: Can a debt collector contact anyone else about my debt?
    – obscurans
    Commented Dec 16, 2021 at 22:27
  • 6
    @Mark the laws only work if the citizen knows to use them and has the interest and resources to do so. 1. bad guy violates law 2. ???????? 3. Justice Commented Dec 16, 2021 at 23:17

Others have answered the "can they go after my daughter" half of the question (tl;dr: only if she co-signed). I'll address the "what should I do" half here.

Be proactive!

Assuming you have federal student loans, there are a bunch of options that might be available, including reduced payments, deferment, or forbearance. This site has more info, including contact details.

From what I've heard anecdotally, the federal student loan people (and, weirdly, IRS people) will typically bend over backwards to figure out a plan that works for both the student and the government, if you're proactive. Contact the student loan people before you miss a(nother?) payment and ask them to help you figure out what your options are.

Even if you have private student loans, the loaning entity is likely to prefer working out a payment plan that works for both of you than for you to just not pay and hope for the best. It's not as good a position to be in, but the worst they can do is whatever they were going to do if you just didn't make payments.

  • 2
    I don’t know if it works with student loans, but when I needed some IRS paperwork for the bank when I was buying my house, and they were taking forever (over 1½ months for a certified copy of my tax return), a phone call to my congressional representative’s office got it solved in less than 24 hours. Reps love the chance to personally help a constituent. (For that matter, the IRS is happy to focus on cases they know are time-sensitive and critical to someone’s life, once they know which those are.) Might help to more quickly get OP on the phone with someone who can actually help.
    – KRyan
    Commented Dec 16, 2021 at 15:37
  • 5
    Student loans, as long as they are officially student loans, are required by law to help you figure out how to repay them before they send the debt to a collector. They are also required to not be predatory lenders, too. They can't force you to pay them instead of your mortgage, car, or other loans, nor can they even suggest it. This is why they call you to go through their budget worksheet. I've been there enough times to know that when you go through that and literally have no money to send them, they will have to offer forbearance or other programs, if you haven't already used it all up. Commented Dec 16, 2021 at 16:13

This depends on who is trying to collect the debt.

Legally, you can not created debt for your daughter through any sort of contract or business dealings. Your student loans are not inherited, though they may take away from anything your daughter would have otherwise inherited.

In the real world, bill collectors in the US are known for frequently breaking laws. It would not be surprising to me if an organization purchased the debt, and then try to harass or con your daughter into paying a debt she does not owe.

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