Dear Moneyist,

My daughter, who lives in Houston, co-signed a student loan for her then-boyfriend several years ago. He promptly quit making payments and she has been making the payments to keep her credit score high. I realize that she is now stuck, but is there any way that the creditor can indicate that she is paying — and he is not? It bugs me that his credit reflects payments that he has not made.

A Frustrated Mom

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Dear Mom,

How I wish she had written to me herself before she co-signed on her then-boyfriend’s student loan. He really did a number on her. Of all the loans to co-sign, this is probably the least advisable. There is no collateral like a house and student loans are almost impossible to discharge. The lender could even garnish your daughter’s wages if no payments were made. I am frustrated reading your letter, so I imagine your nom de plume is a polite understatement of how you really feel. Still, the past is another country, so we must deal with the here and now.

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She is in a very difficult situation. Aside from appealing to her ex-boyfriend’s better nature — assuming he has one — it’s also worth contacting the lender. According to eAdvisors, a comparison site for private student lenders: “Some lenders offer co-signer release as an option, if the borrower makes 12, 24, 36 or 48 consecutive payments on time (before the due date).” But the lender is unlikely to allow this if her ex does not show he can make the payments. Worse: If your daughter didn’t sign a death discharge, she may still be responsible for this loan if her boyfriend dies.

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“There are two main alternatives to a formal co-signer release option,” eAdvisors add. “One is to pay off the debt in full.” (But you probably already knew that and it hardly helps.) “The other is to use a non co-signed loan to refinance the co-signed loan, such as a private consolidation loan, home equity loan or personal bank loan.” This option would almost certainly require the permission of the other co-signer. Love is all about taking a leap of faith, and your daughter obviously trusted this man. But it’s not always a good recipe for making sound financial choices.

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