Why You Don't Need Life Insurance to Protect Against Your Child's Debt

April 4, 2013 | | Guardian |

These articles … they are all the same. They open with bereaved parents, moms and dads dealing with the death of a young adult child. There is Angela Smith, whose son Donte Newsome, 25, was murdered in 2008. Or David and Rose Prior, whose son Andrew, 23, died after getting hit by a drunk driver in 2010, shortly after graduating from Northeastern University.

And then you discover these parents have something else in common besides tragedy. They are all fighting the $1tn monster that calls itself the student loan industry.

Never mind the fact that one can't escape college debts in bankruptcy court. It turns out death doesn't stop the collections calls either, at least not all of them.


It is in the cases of the dead debtors and their grieving parents, however, where you can really see the logical endgame for this way of viewing the world. Instead of offering help, or pondering why any 20-year-old is dying with tens of thousands of dollars of debt, all too many attempt to shame the survivors by pointing out they wouldn't be in this financial jam if they had just thought to seek out yet another offering from financial services industry.

I don't really no what to say to this, so I will give the final words in this column to Tamara Draut, the vice president of the progressive think tank Demos and author of Strapped: Why America's 20- and 30- Somethings Can't Get Ahead. "We have come to an unfortunate place as a country," she told me. "The cost of higher education is a major societal problem that demands a public solution – not another financial product."