During this morning's broadcast of his radio show, syndicated host Tom Joyner volunteered to pay the student loan of deceased college student Jermaine Edwards for his mother who has been forced to carry the debt.
Edwards died unexpectedly in 2009 at the age of 24, reportedly of natural causes, and his mother, Ella Edwards, was saddled with the bill, which she said she could not afford to pay.
Ella launched an online petition in November asking the loan company to forgive the more than $10,000 student loan taken out by her son and has been lobbying to get the loan forgiven since.
Edwards is 61 years old and works part-time as a seamstress. Her petition had gained more than 195,000 signatures on the website Change.org. Her son was studying music production.
"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."
She joined the Joyner Show's Jacque Reid for a segment called "Inside Her Story" this morning to explain her story and plead with the loan company to forgive her loans.
After a tearful plea to the loan company on the show, Joyner told Edwards he would pay off her son's loan himself.
A transcript of the exchange between Joyner, Reid and Edwards is below:
JACQUE REID: Good morning, Tom, now last Friday I brought you the story of Ella Edwards and her petition to get a private loan company to forgive her son's student loan after her son died suddenly. It is a $10,000 dollar debt that Ms. Edwards just can't afford. At 61 she retired early due to illness and Tom, now she had to go back to work as a seamstress on a line at a car company just to pay off this debt. Now this is a private loan company that won't forgive the debt. By the way her son also had two federal loans that were forgiven when Ms. Edwards showed them his death certificate.
ELLA EDWARDS: But I would like to say, I would like to thank all the people for supporting my petition. And I also would like to ask the National Co-League Trust of First Marblehead to please forgive my student loan so I can find my baby, I need to find my baby.
JACQUE REID: Oh, Ms. Edwards, we are ...
TOM JOYNNER: Ms. Edwards, Ms. Edwards.
ELLA EDWARDS: Yes?
TOM JOYNER: Would you stay on the line and give me your account number and all the information, and I'll pay the $10,800 dollars.
ELLA EDWARDS: Are you serious?
TOM JOYNER: Yes, I'm serious.
ELLA EDWARDS: Oh, I can't believe this. Thank you so much!
JACQUE REID: So you can rest your soul.
ELLA EDWARDS: I just need to find my baby, I just need to find my baby, I can't live without my baby.