New Jersey Mom Continues to Pay Off State Student Loans Despite Son's Murder
Kevin DeOliveira-Longinetti was an honors student and talented athlete when he enrolled at the University of Vermont in 2009. According to CBS News, his goal was to become a doctor.
But in January 2015, Kevin was found dead in his Burlington apartment. He had been shot in the head.
Marcia, Kevin’s mother, was overcome with grief, anguish, and sadness – as well as the rest of the state. Electric bills and gas bills were forgiven, and even the federal government wiped out her son’s Stafford loan debts.
However, the New Jersey Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA) – the source of almost $19,000 in additional student loans – didn’t follow the rest of the state’s actions. Despite the tragedy, the HESAA wrote to Marcia that monthly bill statements will continue to be sent to her.
Reports about HESAA
An investigation conducted by The New York Times and ProPublica looked at HESAA and quoted an attorney who likened it to “state-sanctioned loan-sharking.” ProPublica interviewed dozens of loan borrowers, including a cancer patient who lost his job and couldn’t repay his loans which resulted in a lawsuit by HESAA for $266,000. It appears the affected families felt misled or tricked, since these borrowers believed that the state took advantage of them, as opposed to helping them.
HESAA executive director Gabrielle Charette said on “CBS This Morning” that of the 62 requests over the past four years, 47 were granted because of financial hardship – totaling at about $500,000. She also claims that the agency does forgive loans if a student dies while enrolled in school.
“Why don’t you have just an automatic discharge policy in the event of death?” CBS News correspondent Michelle Miler asked.
“We are a small state agency using public money and we need to be as judicious as possible so that we can help those who truly need it,” Charette explained.
Despite being a public agency, HESAA’s loans are not financed by state funds, but through the sale of bonds to investors. Marcia said she is willing and able to pay the principal on her son’s loan, but anticipated a break on the interest since it almost doubled the total amount owed.
Unfortunately, Kevin’s murder is still unsolved.