hi TerryI have written to you before. I am saving for an emergency fund and paying off debt. I have two kids in College. They both will need a cosigner for loans. Should my wife and I cosign ?my son plans on becoming a nurse my daughter a sign language teacher.they cannot get the loans on their ownwhat should we do
Terry Says: Many parents find themselves in this situation — not having been able to save enough to pay for college. Look, this is basically an issue each of your children must face. It is their future, and their debt. The place to start is with the financial aid office of the college they want to attend. You will be required to fill out the FAFSA form — the free application for federal student aid — which is used by every aid-granting organization, as well as for federal student loans. Go to www.FAFSA.ed.gov to learn more. And also go to www.FinAid.org. Both will tell you everything you need to know about financial aid.
More specifically to your question is the issue of whether you should co-sign. You know that you will ultimately be responsible for the loans if they do not pay. I’m not a fan of co-signing loans for students. There is a loan designed specially for parents — not co-signing — but for parents to take out to finance college. It is called a PLUS loan, and you can learn more at the above-mentioned websites. Rates are high, though.
You might also have some discussions with your children — though it’s a bit late now — about their planned careers. Nursing schools offer their own scholarships, and that child should check out the school he is planning to attend for more information. It’s a career that should give him enough money to repay his loans over 10 years. But being a sign language teacher is not likely to provide a lot of income, unless I miss my guess. Both of them should be working in side jobs, or asking about work/study programs at their colleges.
If they’ve come this far in college and are now turning to you for assistance, you’ll need a family discussion. It would be nice to have a nurse in the family to take care of you in your old age — after they pay off their student loans — but if you can’t count on that then you should prioritize planning for your own retirement by paying off debt and saving your money!