Last month, Rhea Shannon let the world know the story of her father, a Marine, who died while on active duty in Afghanistan during her senior year of college. The loss of her father was devastating enough, but Shannon was also left with $54,000 in student loans.
Only hours after the story was published on CNNMoney, Shannon (pictured above) got a call from Ashlynne Haycock at Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, also known as TAPS, a nonprofit group that helps people who have lost loved ones in the military. Haycock focuses on education.
Haycock sought to wipe clean Shannon’s entire student loan debt.
“I was at my desk on the phone and tears were coming down…I was like, ‘Is this really happening?'” Shannon told CNNMoney.
Shannon works as a production assistant at a television channel. Her father had co-signed the loan. It was very important to him. He had re-enlisted in the Marines to help pay for it.
TAPs’ Haycock usually helps students via the Department of Veterans Affairs and private organizations. But in Shannon’s case, she went through JPMorgan Chase (JPM), a TAPS partner.
The debt was forgiven through JPMorgan Chase’s Military Survivor Program, which seeks out cases like Shannon’s. Since the program started in 2013, JPMorgan has forgiven $4.3 million in student loans, car loans, mortgages, and credit card debt held by fallen service members.
“The goal of the program is to offer debt forgiveness to surviving family members and beneficiaries for the debt of military customers who have been killed in combat action or died in a combat theater of operations since January 1, 2011,” says JPMorgan’s Military Survivor Program webpage.