market timer wrote:It would have been preferable to use the inheritance, but there are other options: take out $20K in student loans now to pay off your mom's credit card debt, send her $150/mo to cover her shortfall with a promise to take care of the rest when you get your first job, get a balance transfer from credit card with a promotional interest rate, borrow money from a person-to-person lending website, etc.
I woke up thinking about this this morning and have somewhat modified my views.
I do still think the option to tell the credit card companies to pound sand is reasonable. Whether to get rid of the whole debt or get it sharply reduced and a reduced interest rate. It may be possible to do this without bankruptcy, but if bankruptcy is necessary, so be it. Also, telling the credit card companies she is considering bankruptcy, in which case they get nothing, may motivate them to compromise.
On the other hand, I will start by saying that when I was a young person, I really had no conception of the sacrifices my parents made to put me and my brothers through school. Once I was older, I realized the full extent. I suspect the OP is in the former boat.
The OP's Mom has been saddled with this debt for some years and has made a small amount of progress paying it off. I'm sure it has cost her a lot of money, stress, and ongoing scrimping to do so, and I am equally sure the credit card companies have been making out like bandits in this situation because her interest rates are surely usurious. The effort and money she has put into this has mostly gone to the basically criminal companies' pockets, so small progress for a lot of effort.
On the other hand, the OP came into an unexpected $50,000 or so recently and used it to pay off a lot of his student debt. I'm sure the student debt has been a burden to him, but I also think the interest rates are not remotely like what his Mom has been paying.
If I were him, I would have used $20,000 or $15,000, whatever the amount is his Mom owes, off the top of the inheritance to pay his Mom's debt. Then I would have set aside whatever was needed to pay (I think this is called) the gift tax, and used the rest to pay off part of his own debts.
Yes, this would have him more in debt, but he owes this help to his Mom. I would a lot rather my Mom, were she still here, have a less stressful life after what's she's been through, than know I owed less myself. Also, as things are now, his Mom cannot save for when she is too old to work.
This can presumably still be done by the OP's taking on enough additional student debt to pay his Mom's debt now.
Without reading back through all the posts, I think I recall siblings being mentioned. It would not be out of line to ask them to chip in. However, I would myself realize that I might be the sibling with the most sense of responsibility and not hold things up by expecting others to chip in.
If job prospects are as good for PhD engineers as seems to be the opinion of another poster who is one, $20,000 is not going to be that difficult for the OP to pay off once he has a job.
The one thing I would not do is drop out of school, even "temporarily." The world is littered with people who do that and never go back.