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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

Family's tragedy may lead to new law on student loans

By Thomas Fitzgerald


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | (MCT) Most people who write their congressman get back a polite form letter.

But when the Bryski family of Marlton, N.J., contacted Rep. John Adler, D-N.J., last year with their story of tragedy, they got legislation drafted and introduced that, if enacted, would change the way millions of student loans are handled.

In 2004, Christopher Bryski was 23 and in college — a seemingly invulnerable varsity athlete — when he suffered a traumatic brain injury in a freak accident; he spent two years in a persistent vegetative state before dying. As brutal as it was for the Bryskis to lose a son and brother in this way, the event triggered a financial nightmare for them.

Because his father, Joseph Bryski Sr., had co-signed Christopher's student loans with several banks, the family was on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars, obligations that had been buried in fine print. So even while medical bills accumulated as Christopher lay in limbo, the student loans came due and the interest rate increased. The Bryskis struggled to keep up.

"The process was horrible," said mother Diane Bryski.

Direct student loans from the federal government are forgiven if the borrower dies or becomes incapacitated, but so-called private loans from banks that millions of students carry usually are not. And because Christopher had not signed a power-of-attorney document, his parents and brothers had no legal standing to negotiate payment terms, nor could they access his bank accounts to help pay off his student debt, rent and credit card bills.

Two to three times a week, banks and credit card companies would call the family demanding payments.

"Some were understanding but said they couldn't do anything: 'We need to talk to Christopher,' " brother Ryan Bryski, 32, recalled, shaking his head at the memory. "What part of 'coma' do you companies not understand?"

The family declined to identify the lending institutions.

Eventually, the Bryskis had to petition to obtain legal guardianship of Christopher, a painful proceeding that involved a court-appointed attorney quizzing the young man in his hospital bed to confirm he was incapacitated.

The Christopher Bryski Student Loan Protection Act (H.R. 5458) would provide some forewarning for families, requiring banks providing student loans to inform borrowers and co-signers of their obligations in case of incapacity or death, to define those terms in a standard way, and to discuss the option of credit insurance, which pays off debts in the event of death.

Bankers and educational institutions would also have to counsel families taking out loans about the benefits of a durable power of attorney, which designates someone to make financial, legal, and medical decisions for you if you become incapable of doing so.

The Bryskis are hardworking people, and they say they do not want to shirk their legal obligation to pay Christopher's debt — on which they continue to make payments.

"We want other families not to have to go through what we did," Ryan Bryski said.

During 2007-08, 13 percent of students attending a four-year public college or university and 26.2 percent of those attending a private four-year institution had private student loans, according to government figures. Sallie Mae, the student-loan company, says that about 84 percent of private student loans involve co-signers.

"The Bryskis exposed a gap in the system," said Adler, a member of the House Committee on Financial Services. He said his bill was aimed at providing "disclosure" for families undertaking private student loans.

Not only would families be able to prepare themselves, but also greater awareness of the problem may put market pressure on private lenders to bring their loans into line with the forgiveness policy of the federal direct student loans. "Information is power," Adler said.

Already, the Brain Injury Association of America has endorsed the legislation, as has the National Association of State Head Injury Administrators, which represents state officials who deal with the care of the brain-injured.

"I don't see any additional cost to the lender for providing this heads-up information; it's going to add another minute to the script as they go through the loan papers," said Susan Connors, president of the Brain Injury Association. "There is only an upside."

Adler's office has not yet heard from financial-institution lobbyists. Officials with the American Banking Association, the industry's main trade group, did not respond to requests for comment.

The bill was introduced in May and has drawn four co-sponsors so far. It has not yet been set for a hearing.

In the spring of 2004, Christopher Bryski was on the Rutgers varsity wrestling team, studying exercise physiology and business economics on the New Brunswick campus. Outgoing and well-liked, he was trying to figure out what he wanted to do, his family said.

He had been a standout athlete in high school and had a "purposeful side," his mother said, mentoring younger students on self-esteem and staying away from drugs.

Christopher was climbing a tree in a friend's yard when, on his way down, a limb snapped and he fell headfirst 45 feet to the ground.

"It's not something you want to think about, but you must be prepared," Diane Bryski said. "This can happen to anybody."

In the family living room stands a monument to Christopher — his ashes resting in a box in a glass-enclosed case, with mementos, including military friends' dog tags, pictures, a rosary and crosses woven from palm fronds.

Now the family hopes there also will be a federal law that honors their son and brother.

"In trying to help other people, you're living (Christopher's) values," Adler told the Bryskis. "It's amazing."

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© The Philadelphia Inquirer Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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