Home Scandal and Gossip Steve Mason hounded over his dead daughter’s $200K student loan, goes through...

Steve Mason hounded over his dead daughter’s $200K student loan, goes through retirement fund

Steve Mason dead daughter's student loan
Steve Mason, Darnelle and their 3 grandchildren, the surviving offspring of the late Lisa Mason.

Steve Mason a Californian pastor has come to find him and his wife being relentlessly hounded by a collection agencies to make good on his deceased daughter outstanding student loans of $200 000.

Crippled by the $2,000 a month in repayments and unable legally to declare bankruptcy to rid himself of the huge debt, the pastor, 59 and his wife Darnelle have reached their wits end.

Each time they have appealed to the lenders to beg for help, the couple have been told that the only solution is to repay their daughter, Lisa Mason‘s debts, some of which have interest rates of 12 percent is to pay in full.

The debt came to fall on Lisa’s parents after Steve personally guaranteed his daughter’s then $100 000 student loans, which allowed her debtors to seek remedy against the family when Lisa Mason came to die of sudden liver failure in 2009. The loans had been made in lieu of the daughter to attend nursing school.

Adding woe to the situation is the fact that the couple are now also guardians of daughter Lisa’s three children, ages nine, 12 and 14, leaving their futures in the balance.

In the five years since hid daughter’s passing, Steve and Darnelle’s inability to keep up with the payments has seen the sum owed double to $200,000 because of high interest rates and late-fee penalties.

Complicating matters, is the fact that Steve Mason makes less than $75,000 a year at Oasis Church in Redlands, California whilst Darnelle earns less in her role as director at the same church.

‘It’s just impossible on a pastor’s salary raising three kids to pay $2,000 a month on loans,’ said Mason to CNN Money, claiming that he is now searching for a second job.

Steve Mason dead daughter's student loan
Lisa Mason and her mother

Making matters more tenuous is the fact that had the outstanding loans been federal student loans, then Steve Mason could have appealed to have them wiped or at the very least received a sensible and manageable payment plan. Yet that option does not exist since the student loans are in fact private.

The answer to why Steve is in such dire financial straits is because these are private student loans.

Private lenders are not bound by federal regulations to provide assistance to those in financial difficulty, according to CNN Money, not even when a family member has passed away.

Whilst Steve Mason has called each of the lenders who provided his daughter money and asked for help each have told that while they understand, they are not legally required to help.

Even worse, student loans are the only type of debt that cannot be discharged by declaring bankruptcy.

‘People with other debt from splurging — they can discharge that,’ he said to CNN Money.

‘Student loans should really be the one type of debt they do discharge because it’s done to further an education and career. 

But somehow getting my daughter an education has encumbered me for the rest of my life.’

That said, one of the lenders, Navient Crop, did reduce Steve’s interest rate to 0% on three of four loans and lowered the amount owed from $35,000 to $27,000.

Told the outlet via CNN Money‘We extend our deepest sympathies to the Mason family on the loss of their daughter,’

‘We’re reaching out to Mr. Mason to offer further assistance as appropriate.’

Another of the lenders, American Education Services (AES), who provided the bulk of the loan to Lisa, said that it is merely recouping its money and doesn’t make the law on loan forgiveness.

Steve was told by AES that he would need to speak to the original lender, National Collegiate Trust.

Nevertheless the pastor was told that he was still obliged to repay the outstanding loans.

The situation has forced Lisa Mason’s father to since shelve plans for retirement and because he is bringing up his daughter’s children which he and his wife will be looking after them till his 70th birthday at the very least.

Reiterated Steve Mason: ‘We’ve pretty much gone through our retirement [funds] already — we didn’t have a lot saved to begin with and now any extra money goes to the kids, as it should, and then whatever we can pay on the loans, we do,’ 

‘At my stage of life, I should have a very different lifestyle than I do.’

The Masons have started a Change.org petition to allow student loans to be discharged in bankruptcy cases.

And then there was this word of advice from a reader on the web:

If you co-sign for any loan, the person you’re signing for should take out a life insurance policy (for the value of the loan) and name you the beneficiary. Often times, insurance policies are available through the institution that gives the loan, and because the payoff decreases with time, the insurance coverage can also decrease, allowing for very reasonable premiums.

Steve Mason dead daughter's student loan
Lisa Mason


  1. @Truth will always come out!….Your are absolutely correct. CNN should take the time to see the type of people Mr. Mason hangs out with and supports outside of his church, shady characters at best. Mr.Mason you aren’t going to get a second job so just stop making yourself look a fool, even more so then you already have….you should be ashamed of yourself.

  2. If anyone still wonders about the $100,000 price tag on the nursing degree should look no further than her medicine cabinet. I can think of one very good reason that death/disability insurance was not taken out. A little tough love and this woman may still be alive and taking care of her “fatherless” children.

  3. I have always felt the upmost sympathy for grandparents who have to raise grandchildren due to their children’s bad choices. However, these folks must have been aware of their daughter’s struggle with drugs. I am baffled why they would cosign for a loan. I am also disturbed they failed to advised folks of this portion of the story. They made the decision, and like the rest of us should have to live with the choices they made and pay their bills like the rest of us.

  4. I want to share my opinion which I am sure some will see as “cold”. I have serious reservations about this and feel my compassion is lacking.

    First let me say it is a sad story and in brief here is my understanding; Lisa Mason the 27 year old daughter of Pastor Steve Mason and his wife Darnelle died from liver failure due to drug abuse in 2009. I did a simple “google” search and discovered that according to the Albuquerque Journal (June 2011), Ms. Mason (per her family) had a long history of drug abuse and the family was currently suing the Doctor (Barry Maron) who had prescribed her more than 400 pills in a two week period.

    The family, after the death of Ms. Mason, is on the hook for more than 100,000. in private student loans that they co-signed for while she attended school. Since her death the family admits they have paid nothing to the lenders although they admit the have an income in excess of 75,000,00 a year. The family states they cannot pay on the loan because they are, as grandparents, raising the three children Ms. Mason had given birth to. I am sensitive to this and wonder if the three children are receiving SSI benefits as they are eligible until they reach legal age. CNN / Money has reported that the lenders have reduced the principal of the loans to 27,000.00 and has lowered the interest rate to 0% on three of the four loans. Sen. Warren has been talking this case up and the family, as you can see below, has started a “go fund me” campaign where they have raised over 14,000.00 so far.

    My point here is . . . . . I am a nice guy. But . . . . wow. After my divorce (’10) I was left with a horrendous debt (some of which I was not aware of) and since ’11 have struggled finding decent work. I am unemployed as I write this and was just informed by Applebee’s that I was not selected for a position. I am not currently behind with child support for my three children from my first marriage, but soon (next month) will be and the State of Michigan will put this on my credit report and it will stay on that report for seven years. When your degree (B.S. Corrections and Juvenile Services) and work history is in working with children having that on your credit report really does not sit well with organizations that hire. Right or wrong, it makes me look like a deadbeat father, I know that. What I am trying to communicate is that I understand how such things can damage your credit rating – honestly, I do.

    I know many of the folks on my facebook “friends” list are struggling and they are all good people. I guess my struggle with this is that the family understood the risk of co-signing a loan and understood the history of substance abuse by their daughter and finally . . . . they have an income in excess of 75,000.00 and a pending lawsuit against the Doctor (Barry Maron) who they say wrongfully gave Ms. Mason the drugs (and to be fair . . . 400+ pain pills in less than two weeks is excessive, IMO).

    I just don’t see this as a “need” but a “want”. I get the pastor feeling that this will impact his retirement but far too many of us are worried about simply feeding our children during the next month and don’t have time to think about retirement. I don’t want to be mean or without compassion but seriously. I know what I and my spouse are going through and have gone through and can only shake my head at a Pastor and wife who makes more than 75,000.00 a year asking the public for help and even getting a US Senator to trumpet the cause. Crazy. To be even more callous, I don’t think the story would not have gotten the attention that it has gotten if Ms. Mason were not an attractive white girl and her Mother and Father not such sympathetic figures (really, who wants to think ill about a pastor). Sure, I know I sound calloused and I will accept that but understand according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there are more than 90 million families, like mine, that are either under employed or unemployed (but no longer counted) that are struggling greatly. The Pastor, I am sure, sees this in his church. Somehow I find struggling to cloth and feed children more pressing then paying back a loan but I imagine we are all different. I am also sure that when bad things have occurred in our lives most of us have not looked to “go fund me” or worked to start a petition to change the situation that we created by our own choices.

    I am all for helping others when needed and have spent my entire career helping others (well, when I was working) even to the detriment of my family but in this case I just don’t see it. I feel bad for the family and send them nothing but my good thoughts and prayers however I don’t see this as a grave injustice or wrong but rather as an opportunity.

  5. Lisa Mason died from liver failure caused by her oxycontin abuse. She was an active drug addict. She was working as a critical care nurse at the time of her death where she was responsible for many critically ill patients while she was under the influence of on average 25 oxycontin tablets every day. Her dad, steve, the one who is now begging for YOUR money, successfully sued Dr. Barry Moran in Albequerque, New Mexico. He also fails to mention that his $75K year salary is TAX EXEMPT as a “preacher”. He fails to mention his wife makes $50K year at the same church, and that his church pays for his house, cars, utilities, and insurance. The 3 kids are getting the maximum social seccurity benefits each month, along with food stamps and medicaidd because they are being raised by their grandparents. people need to RESEARCH before they donate to this fafmily of drug addicts and SCAMMERS!

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