The student loan obligation that lives on after death

No, the British student loan system doesn't operate this way and we're not even sure that the American one should. However:

Deceased and still in debt: the student loans that don't get forgiven

Student loans not expunged upon death? Now there's a thing, eh? 

In 2005, Sean Bennett took out a student loan with Sallie Mae, in 2010 he graduated from college and in 2011, when Sean was 23 years old, he died in a car accident.

At first, Sallie Mae sent out a letter of condolence to Sean’s parents explaining that they had a policy of forgiving debt if the recipient dies before they have repaid (they could afford to forgive – in the first quarter of this year alone, Sallie Mae made $333m in interest repayments from student loans).

Their policy of debt forgiveness is available on their website but it’s also in a file which Sean’s parents have meticulously maintained. It contains Sean’s loan application, his death certificate and the letters they received from Sean’s lenders when they decided to chase the debt after all.

Sallie Mae did not, of course, "make" $333 million in interest payments. It received them. And also paid out substantial sums to the people who had lent it the money in the first place. But then The Guardian an accounting, economics or numbers.

However, let's think of the alternative system to student loans - taxpayer funding of both students and academe. We're really pretty sure that tax bills are not expunged at death, the estate must still settle them. In fact, it's worse than that, death itself is a taxable event, the government will, upon issuance of that death certificate, start asking for up to 40% or so of everything.

We cannot see why that's a better system than a student loan similarly living on after death. Especially since the complaint here is that dead people shouldn't have to pay.