Mother asks bank to forgive dead son's college loan in online petition

BOSTON Wed Nov 28, 2012 10:25pm EST

Jermaine Edwards is pictured in this undated handout photo courtesy of change.org. Ella Edwards, the mother of Jermaine a Detroit-area college student who died in 2009, has launched an online petition asking lender First Marblehead Corp to forgive a $10,000 student loan taken on by her son that she says she cannot repay. REUTERS/change.org/Handout

Jermaine Edwards is pictured in this undated handout photo courtesy of change.org. Ella Edwards, the mother of Jermaine a Detroit-area college student who died in 2009, has launched an online petition asking lender First Marblehead Corp to forgive a $10,000 student loan taken on by her son that she says she cannot repay.

Credit: Reuters/change.org/Handout

BOSTON (Reuters) - The mother of a Detroit-area college student who died in 2009 has launched an online petition asking lender First Marblehead Corp to forgive a $10,000 student loan taken on by her son that she says she cannot repay.

Ella Edwards, a 61-year-old woman working part-time as a seamstress, has garnered some 191,000 signatures for her online petition on the website Change.org (www.change.org/ella).

"I am trying to pay off Jermaine's loan, but I simply don't have the money - and because of my crushing depression, I am barely able to work at all," Edwards said in her online petition. "Nobody told me when I co-signed the loan that I would be forced to pay them back even if my son died."

Her son, Jermaine, died suddenly in 2009 at the age of 24 after studying music production at colleges in Florida and Michigan, officials with Change.org said. No cause of death was given. Edwards said he left a 2-year-old son.

A spokesman for Boston-based First Marblehead declined to comment specifically on Edwards' case, citing privacy rules.

"We're bound to service that loan in accordance with the original loan contract with the customer," bank spokesman Bill Baumer said.

"If a person has a complaint or a particular request for some sort of relief, we have process in place to assess and evaluate those if we are able to provide that relief."

(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Tim Gaynor and Mohammad Zargham)

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