Ella Edwards started the petition three months ago, and it has amassed almost 200,000 signatures.
Edwards says her only child Jermaine, 24, died in 2009 of natural causes after studying music production in college. At the time he had three outstanding student loans ? two federal, one private. The two federal loans were forgiven, but the private company, American Education Services, refuses to dismiss the debt.
Ella Edwards cosigned her son's loan and says she did not realize she would still be obligated to pay if he passed away.
"[A]fter his death, I was so devastated I could barely get out of bed in the morning. I requested an early retirement from my job, losing much needed retirement benefits," her petition says.
Ella Edwards says she's been under the care of doctors since Jermaine's death.
"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. To make matters worse, Jermaine left behind a young son whose mother doesn't have many resources. Therefore, she relies on me to help support Jermaine's son," Ella Edwards wrote.
The petition is addressed to the CEOs of American Education Services and First Marblehead Corporation, James Presto and Daniel Meyers, respectively, and several other top officers at those companies.
"Jermaine never had an opportunity to use his education and I can't use it either. I need help to get this loan forgiven and to change policies that will protect students and parents after the death of a student," Ella Edwards wrote.http://www.change.org/ella