Morally obligated to co-sign?


I need help (lol, that doesn’t sound right). My husband and I have a little family issue. My sister-in-law is trying to make her way through college. Unfortunately, all her options for loans have run out, except for one where someone can co-sign on the loan with her. It’s for 20,000, and she’ll immediately have a high paying job secured upon graduation in two or three years.

In the past she hasn’t been financially wise, and has had credit collectors hunting her down. However, after being on her own for the last few years, she says she’s changed and that she’s more responsible now.

Here’s the question: what should we do? We just bought a house seven days ago. We have some big purchases in the future. We know that co-signing on her loan will automatically put a dent in our credit score… although we do have beyond excellent credit.

Here’s the quandary: Would co-signing on her student loan be A) foolish or B) God’s will? I can see both sides of the answers. Foolish because it is not wise to co-sign (duh). But could it be God’s will, because Jesus said to give to everyone who asks, and even if they ask for the shirt off your back, give them your coat too? In other words, Jesus told us to give, even if that means everything (and in this case, I wonder if we could actually lose everything if she doesn’t hold up her end of the deal). So is it within God’s will to co-sign, or is it foolish?

We already have strained relations with her (a few years ago when I was deathly sick she tried to turn my husband against me, and she was severely controlling of us and our schedules- but never mind, I shouldn’t have even mentioned it, because I do love her even still). I mention it (separation on sad terms) only as an example as to why we worry that she’ll take it the wrong way if we don’t co-sign.

I’ve gone over and over this in my mind: “God will not condemn us to hell for a foolish mistake, if that is the case in co-signing. What He could send us to hell over, is if we did not do as He commanded (giving). I’d say to play it morally safe would to be to say yes to co-signing with her. Surely God would dismiss the foolishness (IF that’s what co-signing turns out to be) because the love and good will in our hearts would trump all.” Or is that thought disordered?

What would be the morally wise thing to do?

P.S.- In the past another of my husband’s sisters asked him to co-sign on a loan for a car. He denied her because he felt the danger of her not being able to keep up her payments. So I do worry about the other sister feeling rejected (although we did give her 2k) if we co-sign this time with this sister and her student loans.

Also- We can’t afford for me to go to college (if i choose to go, which I’m not planning on it). So I don’t know how fair it is to co-sign her way. Not that I matter :p.


Why have her options for loans run out?


She says her first college maxed her out on Stafford loans, and that this pharmacy school she’s seeking to attend now “considers me as undergrad the first two years. This makes me ineligible for graduate loans, grants, workstudy, or scholarships because I finish my degree (undergrad) this summer. I make too much money (23,000 a year as an independant single person!) to get grants and I can’t apply for pharm scholarships until my second year. So I need to pay for it myself.


Do you have children? Your first financial obligations are to your children and you should not cosign if it could jeopardize your children, i.e money for education, health care, etc.


I feel so sorry for her. Unfortunately, this is becoming a stressful issue and it comes at a very bad time for us. Both my husband and I suffer from stress that eventually builds up to bad panic attacks for him and fainting spells for me (due to a heart condition), and so I know just from a health perspective it isn’t wise to take on any more stress. I don’t know if that’s a worthy factor, but it is an element that is important to mention.

But if we are morally obligated to co-sign, then I joyfully submit myself to the will of God.


You are not morally obligated to cosign.


We do not yet have children, but it is always a possibility if God allows (we’ll be married for 8 years this year). I don’t know what the implications would be regarding the jeopardization of our health care though. I don’t know…


Tough one, but here’s my opinion. Whenever I do anything of this nature for a friend or family member, I look at it as a GIFT, fully prepared for a default. This way, I’m not disappointed when a default does occur and I’m prepared to either cover the debt or just ‘write it off’, if I made the ‘loan’ myself.

If you and your husband can afford to cover the 20 grand in the event of her default, both financially and emotionally, fully aware that you could loose the money, then go ahead and co-sign. If the loss of $20,000 would send your family budget into shock, potentially causing bitter and lifelong family discourse, then don’t do it.

Are you morally obligated to co-sign for her loan? Absolutely NOT! Does she have other options to solve her cash-crunch besides you-all? Probably. After all, necessity is the mother if invention.


Yes, you do matter.

If you co-sign, it is a charitable thing.

But you are not morally obligated to co-sign. Moreover, you have cited a history that should raise alarm flags.

If I were in your place, I would not co-sign. This is not a matter of life and death; she will just have to find other means.


I don’t understand your dilemma.

Your husband already denied another sibling a co-sign because of perceived inability to repay.

So here comes the 2nd sibling with a very similar request, now you’re wondering about moral responsibilities?

So why didn’t you wonder about the moral responsibilities with the 1st sibling?

Because you believed she would default, sticking you with bad credit & a loan you would need to pay off.

And the 2nd sibling is maxed out on credit, can’t get another loan, & has collection agencies after her. So what makes her any different, in a business liability sense, than the 1st sibling?

You don’t have any moral responsibilities to her to pay for her education. The same that you don’t have any moral responsibility to the other sister to buy her a car.


Too many ‘red flags’, don’t do it…if it goes ‘wrong’, your health will suffer too! Don’t do it!

Anna x


You are not her bank. If it were me, I would say sorry…no deal. No explanation is necessary.



I agree with cargopilot. If you decide to do this, and of course you are not obligated in any way, you must be fully prepared to accept the consequences of a default.

If it was me, I’d say NO WAY. I really don’t understand how someone making 23k as a college student (who presumably is not having to pay the other student loans yet) would need more money than that. Refer her to Crown Financial Ministries and see if they can help her get back on track. There might even be options to consolidate her consumer debt as well.


Banks operate on the principle that they make money by lending money out to people who will pay it back with interest. They cut their losses by only lending to those It deems a good risk and have some likelyhood of paying it back. A red flag is when a bank won’t lend to someone. They know the ins and outs of lending and it would be foolish to think one knows more than they do in such situations. They are cautious for a reason even though a default wouldn’t hurt them nearly to the extent that it would an individual.
Prudential judgement would definitely need to be considered. There is no moral obligation to co-sign.

In Christ - J.M.J.

P.S. There is no such thing as a guaranteed job in 2 years.


There is no guarantee that she will have a high paying job immediately after graduating.

I wouldn’t co-sign if I were you.


Do not co-sign the loan unless you are willing and able to pay every penny of it and are willing to lose your relationship with your sister in law over it in the worst case scenario.

Money and family don’t mix.

They want a co-signer for a reason. It’s because she does not have the credit worthiness to get it on her own.

And, there is absolutely no guarantee she will have a “high paying” job (or ANY job) upon graduation. And, even if she does there is no guarantee she’ll honor the obligation to pay the loan.

Don’t do it.


you have no moral obligation whatever to co-sign a loan for anyone, including your own children. To co-sign means you are making yourself potentially liable for the debt, which can destroy your credit in an instant. Unless you already have resources to back that debt, do not even consider it. To co-sign a loan for someone with a history of mismanaging credit is insanity and may also be enabling their abusive habit, which is immoral in and of itself.


As others here have said, you have no *moral *obligation to co-sign.

Furthermore, she needs to find her own way in the world and needs to learn this life lesson on her own. With that in mind, it is more charitable that you do *not *co-sign.

You should, of course, pray for her and offer moral support.



If you are looking for an excuse to give your relative, simply say, which is quite likely true, you are trying to qualify for your own mortgage or credit and will fail if you assume another obligation, and under your current obligations, would quite likely be turned down as a co-signer on another debt.


IMHO, it is wrong to go into deep debt to get a college diploma, debt that can crush for years and years - bad idea.

She should go to a school she can afford, it might take longer but to graduate and not drag that debt behind you would be well worth it.

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