Can Sallie Mae put a lien on mine and my wife's home due to a loan for my daughter's education?
States provide different levels of protection under their homestead exemption laws. Some only protect property up to a certain value, and if a home is worth more than that, the creditor can still force the sale of that home, but the owner can keep a certain amount of the proceeds of the sale.
The following is an Arizona statute:
Sale by judgment creditor of property subject to homestead exemption
A judgment creditor other than a mortgagee or beneficiary under a trust deed may elect to sell by judicial sale as specified in title 12 the property in which the judgment debtor has a homestead under section 33-1101, subsection A, provided that the judgment debtor's interest in the property shall exceed the sum of the judgment debtor's homestead plus the amount of any consensual liens on the property having priority to the judgment. A bid shall not be accepted by the officer in charge of a sale under this section which does not exceed the amount of the judgment debtor's homestead plus the amount of any consensual liens on the property having a priority to the judgment plus the costs of the sale allowable under title 12. After receipt of a sufficient bid, the officer shall sell the property. From the proceeds, the officer shall first pay the amount of the homestead to the judgment debtor plus the amount of any consensual liens on the property having a priority to the judgment and then pay the costs of the sale. The remaining proceeds shall be applied in accordance with the provisions of section 12-1562, subsection A. If the sale does not occur, either because of voluntary abandonment by the judgment creditor or because no sufficient bid is made, the judgment creditor may not charge any costs or attorney fees incurred in connection with the sale against the judgment debtor by addition to the judgment or otherwise.