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Grieving Father Struggles to Repay Dead Son's Massive Student Loans

Despite the help of a lawyer, he has not been able to determine exactly how much he owes, or even what company holds his loans.

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Seemingly the only party who knows — and is obligated to tell Reynoso — about this debt is the servicer, ACS Education Services.

Citing privacy reasons, ACS declined to disclose any specifics about the loans to ProPublica, even with Reynoso’s full consent. Three weeks ago, Francisco Reynoso himself sent a letter to ACS asking who currently holds the loans, but he has received no response.

ACS is a subsidiary of Xerox, so ProPublica put in several calls there. Given more than a full week to respond, Xerox’s corporate communications team has yet to provide a response to queries about when Reynoso can expect basic information about his son’s loans, including the amount he owes and the name of the company that now owns the debt.

Even with the help of a lawyer, Reynoso’s options are limited. Unlike most kinds of debt, private student loans are not dischargeable through bankruptcy, though Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., is leading an  effort to change that. So for the time being, Reynoso’s hope hinges on a narrow provision in the bankruptcy code called a  hardship discharge. The bar for proving “undue hardship” is high, but Reynoso still hopes for the best as he waits for a ruling from the bankruptcy judge. As he puts it: “I’m in the hands of God.”

 

Marian Wang is ProPublica's lead reporter-blogger. She previously worked for Mother Jones , where she spearheaded the magazine's social media strategy.

 
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