You want to be a good grandparent. Therefore, you might have thought about whether or not you should co-sign grandchildren’s student loans. Or perhaps they’ve already asked you to co-sign, and you’re trying to make a decision about it. While it’s certainly a nice idea, it might not be the best thing for either of you. Here are ten reasons not to co-sign grandchildren’s student loans.
1. It Encourages Private Loans
Federal student loans don’t typically require a co-signer. Notably, these are usually the best available student loans. Therefore, your grandchild should be trying to get those federal loans first. More often than not, those loans will cover college costs. If you quickly agree to co-sign grandchildren’s student loans, then you’re encouraging them to get private loans, which they might not need at all.
2. It Discourages Hard Work
In addition to federal student loans, there are a lot of other ways for your grandchildren to fund college. Options include:
- Applying for grants and scholarships.
- Working part-time including on-campus jobs to supplement loans.
- Working full-time for a year or two to save up for college.
- Choosing a less expensive college or hacking their education.
When you readily agree to sign their loans, you take the hard work out of it for them. You don’t give them the opportunity to figure out different options. This can be a disservice to them down the line, when they have to think their way creatively out of other financial challenges, but haven’t had the practice in doing so.
3. It Affects Grandparents’ Credit
When you co-sign a loan, you guarantee that the borrower will repay that loan. That shows up on your own credit report. It impacts your ability to borrow money. Therefore, you want to think very carefully before you co-sign grandchildren’s student loans.
After all, your grandchildren are still young adults. They likely aren’t that responsible with their money yet. It wouldn’t be unheard of for them to make late payments or to skip payments altogether. You’ve worked your whole life to establish your credit history. Do you want them to ruin it for you now?
Remember, also, that even if they make all of the payments on time, the loan may still impact your credit score. It adds to your total overall debt.
4. You Can’t Afford It
Of course you want to help your grandchildren go to college. However, can you truly afford to help them? If you can afford to help the outright, then it’s better to gift or loan the money to them directly. If you can’t afford to do that, then you probably also can’t afford to co-sign grandchildren’s student loans. After all, that’s the same thing as taking out that loan for yourself. Can you afford that at this late stage in your life? Are you truly comfortable with that? Would you do it to go back to school yourself?
5. It Can Circumvent the Parent-Child Relationship
If your child needs someone to co-sign their student loans for them, then they might first look to their parents (your children or children-in-law). If their parents said no, there could be a good reason. If you turn around and say, “well I’ll do it” then you might be circumventing the parents efforts. Depending on your family situation, dynamics, and configuration, this could be an important reason not to co-sign grandchildren’s student loans.
6. Parents Have Better Loan Options than Grandparents
If the grandchildren’s parents are involved in their lives and willing to help, it’s better for them to explore loan options before you do. That’s because there are some terrific loans set up for the parents of college students. PLUS loans are the obvious example. These options aren’t typically available to grandparents. If your family is going to support the younger generation through college, a grandparent as co-signer is really a last resort.
7. Your Grandchild Is Only One Family Member
Everyone is facing tough financial times right now. That means any one of your family members might need financial help. If you put all of your eggs in one basket by co-signing on a grandchild’s student loans, then you might not be able to assist other family members as needed. Your other grandchildren, your children, your siblings and your own parents, if they’re still alive, may all need financial help. Where do you want to put your money?
8. It Puts Your Health at Risk
Dallas News reports on statistics from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that show that co-signing on a grandchild’s student loans often puts the grandparent into a precarious financial position. They are more likely than others in the same age group to skip medicine and doctor’s visits. And yet, if debt causes stress, they made need those doctor visits more than ever before. If you aren’t in a financial position to lend money directly to your grandchildren then chances are that you shouldn’t co-sign grandchildren’s student loans either.
9. It Will Likely Affect Your Retirement
Investopedia reports that older people with student loan debt often end up working later instead of retiring when they originally planned. Moreover, about one third of baby boomers report that they’ve either delayed accruing retirement income or taken out retirement income early due to those loans. It’s important to think about your own financial future first. Your grandchild has many years left to figure theirs out. But do you?
10. It May Change Your Relationship
When you think about co-signing for the loan, you imagine your grandchild’s gratitude. You are happy to help them out. But it’s important to recognize that this might not be the reality. Your grandchild might drop out of college. They might default on the loan. They might not be as grateful to you as you would think. All of this can have a drastic negative impact on the relationship that you have with your grandchild.
And what if you have more than one grandchild? Are you going to co-sign for all of them? If not, how does that impact your relationship with each grandchild? These are questions to take lightly. Your familial relationships are important. There are other ways for your grandchildren to fund college. There aren’t other grandchildren for you to have relationships with.
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