Parents Saddled with $100K Student Loan Debt after Daughter's Tragic Death

When their 23-year-old daughter tragically died, the Masons were saddled with $100,000 in student loan debt. INSIDE EDITION visits the couple for their story.

Steve Mason and his wife Darnelle are being haunted by a debt from beyond the grave.

Steve told INSIDE EDITION, "You can't anticipate every curve life throws at you. Who expects a 23 year old child to die?"

"I wake up most nights just in a panic and fear because these loans will outlive us. They're just never going to go away," said Darnelle.

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When their daughter, Lisa, started nursing school, they co-signed for her loans. But when she died unexpectedly of liver failure in 2009 they didn't realize they would be saddled with $100,000 in debt.

"My daughter is gone. The benefits of that education are gone," said Darnelle.

The Masons wrongly thought the debt would be erased when their daughter died. Instead, it's doubled in size. They now owe $200,000.

Now, they are faced with trying to raise their daughter's three children while paying off the loans. Not an easy task since Steve makes a living as a pastor.

"You just feel desperate. It's just no way out," said Darnelle.

Personal finance expert Lauren Lyons Cole says, "To stop this from happening to your family, first students should consider refinancing."

"This could happen to anyone. Once you graduate from college you can actually refinance your student loans in only your own name, and get your parents totally off the hook. No co-signers involved," said Cole.

Another tip: buy term life insurance.

Cole said, "If you have a large amount of debt, $100,000, it's worth it to take out a term life insurance policy just to cover that amount."

As for these grieving parents, they say their daughter would not have wanted to burden them with her debts.

"She would put her arms around me and say 'I'm so sorry. I never wanted this for you,'" said Darnelle.

For more information on the Mason's GoFundMe page, go here.