Can Bankruptcy Eliminate My Student Loans?

Posted By Leonard V. Sominsky, ESQ., PC, || 12-Oct-2015

Many people are saddled with overwhelming debts—with student loans being a major culprit. But what are your options for getting rid of those crippling student loans? Do you have any other options other than putting your entire paycheck towards your burgeoning debt every month just to survive? The truth is that most individuals don’t even realize that their student loan debts are actually dischargeable through bankruptcy.

Did you know that some reports show as little as .1 percent of consumers struggling with student loans even attempt to include them in their bankruptcy proceedings? While bankruptcy isn’t the cure-all solution for average debts, it is an effective option for those facing unexpected financial circumstances or restrictive situations.

When Is Student Debt Dischargeable?

According to Debt.org, U.S. student loan debt has ballooned to $1.2 trillion in the last years. That is around $3,000 in student loan debt accrued every second. The average student who graduated in 2014 walked out with $33,000 in student loan debt into an economy that is hiring fewer college graduates for their specific field of study. With numbers like these, it isn’t so shocking that post-grads across the nation are asking how they can deal with their student debt.

Discharging student debt can be complex. If everyone who filed for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 tried to discharge their student loan debts, it could lead to a serious collapse of the system.

So who qualifies for discharging their debts?

The Brunner Test—Do You Qualify?

The Brunner test is in place to help filter out of the individuals who are capable of actually paying off their student loans over time. If you file for bankruptcy and want to discharge your loans, you must be able to demonstrate that attempting to pay off your student loans would cause you what is known as “undue hardship.”

This is measured by the Brunner Test, which involves three key areas:

  • Persistence
  • Poverty
  • Good faith

In other words, you must have made every possible effort—in good faith—to repay your student loans, but your situation forces you to choose between maintaining a minimal standard of living and paying off loans. This situation must be likely to persist through your repayment term.

Of the individuals who request student loan forgiveness, 40% are granted a partial or total discharge of their debts. While it seems intimidating to take that step, it is crucial if you are pursuing true financial relief.

Filing an Adversary Proceeding

Though other debts are simply part of the bankruptcy filing, you have to take additional steps to get your student loans included. In order to have your student loans discharged in a bankruptcy filing, you need your bankruptcy lawyer to file an adversary proceeding on your behalf.

What exactly is an adversary proceeding? It is a separate lawsuit connected to the bankruptcy filing against your student loan creditor (s), requesting forgiveness of some or all of your debt. This is a crucial component of getting your student loan debts discharged and often requires the skill and advocacy of a qualified attorney.

Struggling with overwhelming student loan debt? Considering filing for bankruptcy? Leonard V. Sominsky, ESQ., PC is here to help. We understand your situation and can guide you through this complex process. Call our Phoenix firm today at(602) 635-9102.

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