Student loan debt in the United States, and unfortunately, defaults on student loan debt, are at an all-time high. As most people are aware, unlike other kinds of debts, student loans generally cannot be discharged in a bankruptcy case. What most people don’t know, however, is that a good bankruptcy attorney can still help you if you are one of the millions of Americans struggling to pay your student loans. Here is why:
Although it is rare, some people can discharge their student loans in a bankruptcy case. The Bankruptcy Code says that student loans cannot be discharged unless they present an “undue hardship” for the debtor. While courts have narrowly defined “undue hardship,” you may qualify if you have a condition, such as a disability, which, through no fault of your own, will prevent you from paying your student loans while meeting your other necessary expenses. A good bankruptcy attorney can advise you on whether this exception may apply to you.
Even if the student loans cannot be discharged, you may be able to discharge other debts, such as credit card debt, medical bills, past due phone and utility bills, and personal loans, which would make it possible to make the monthly student loan payments. A bankruptcy discharge can give you the financial space you need to meet your other obligations, and it can relieve the stress of having so many demands on your hard earned income.
Even if student loan debt is the only debt you have, a bankruptcy filing can prevent those extreme collection measures that can throw a wrench into your everyday life – things like harassing phone calls, lawsuits, wage garnishments, and liens. With a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you can hold the student loan creditors at bay for several years, while making a payment to them that works within your budget. In some cases, if you are already enrolled in one of the Income Determined Repayment or Income Based Repayment (IDR and IBR) plans that are available for Federally-backed student loans, you may be able to remain in those programs throughout your Chapter 13 case. This enables you to keep your student loans current while discharging other debts.
Even if you prefer not to file bankruptcy, bankruptcy attorneys are experienced at negotiating with creditors and debt collectors, and may be able to help you come to an agreement with them that works for you, and allows you to move your life forward without being dragged down by those student loans.
There is no need to let the stress of outstanding student loans weigh you down. There are solutions out there and good, experienced, bankruptcy attorneys, such as the ones at Miller, Luring, Venters & Wesner, can help you find them. In most cases, there is no fee for the initial consultation. We are happy to meet with you, and to make sure we can truly help you before we do anything that results in even more bills for you. There is no risk in getting good advice.
If you need help with your student loans, give us a call.