When I started university the way federal loans were issued in Canada was much different from how it is today. Long story short, I didn’t qualify for any form of student loans because, on paper, my mom made too much money. They didn’t care that she was a single parent, they looked at her income and the fact that my father should have been paying child support. It didn’t take long for them to change the system but it didn’t help me at all for my undergraduate degree.
I wasn’t not going to university so my mom took me to the bank and got me a student line of credit. Given at a decent interest rate (prime plus 1%). Only real downside was that my mom had to co-sign the loan. Student lines of credit (for the most part) are issued with the collateral being, well, my mom.
Should You Co-Sign on a Loan for Your Children?
I have to be honest I’m not sure I would have done the same thing as my mom. I don’t know what I would have done giving the constraints we were under but I don’t think I would ever co-sign a loan for my child.
My mom has nothing to worry about, I’m a good responsible child and despite our differences I would never default on the loan, forcing her to make the payments. Though I very well could do that, I wouldn’t. I also make sure I have the co-signed loans insured so if, God forbid, I die my mom doesn’t become automatically responsible for their repayment.
My best friends parents did something a little different. Rather than taking out student lines of credit in their names (the children), they (the parents) opted to borrow from their home equity (paid off mortgage) in the form of a home equity line of credit. This way the loans were never in the kids names despite the use being for their education. The kids were asked to sign a repayment agreement in the (very) off-chance they decided to skip town and not pay off their responsibilities. Though my friend borrowed over $20,000 for her education, the day she graduated, according to the bank, she was debt free.
I’ve known people who have needed their parents to co-sign mortgages for them. I would NEVER do this. If the bank doesn’t think my child can afford a mortgage based on their own financial situation I am not mixing myself up in it.
Whether or not you should or should not co-sign a loan really depends on the situation and people involved. I have seen seemingly perfect families ripped apart over monetary issues and I’m sure it’s not the last time I will. You need to protect yourself and your assets.
Though I would hope your child (ren) would never deliberately screw you over with a co-signed loan, it happens for millions of different reasons. While my situation worked in the aspect that I’m diligently paying off my loans, some students are unfortunate when it comes to getting a job and it takes years to pay them off, this debt continuing to follow the parents around.
Though I hope I am never in a situation where I would need to consider this, would you or have you co-signed a loan for your kids?