Can bankruptcy relieve your student loans?

Jun 1, 2019 | Bankruptcy

In the 21st century, student loans are a hot topic. In what Forbes magazine calls a crisis, 44 million American borrowers are in debt to the tune of $1.5 trillion. This is the highest amount of student loan debt in history, with the average borrower owing $28,650.

While student-loan forgiveness plans do exist – many involve working a number of years in jobs benefiting the community – they are often difficult to qualify for, and recently they have been in political peril. What’s far more common is young adults struggling to keep up with their student loan payments. If you can’t find your way out of student-loan debt, bankruptcy may be an option for you.

What is bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy is a path to financial relief for those over-burdened with debt. In the bankruptcy process, courts often liquidate a debtor’s assets to pay off creditors. Once the bankruptcy process is complete, most debts are usually relieved.

Bankruptcy usually remains on your credit report for 10 years and could impact your chances of approval for things like credit cards and loans. The effects of bankruptcy on your credit score do wane over time, however.

Bankruptcy and student loans

People often assume that student loan debt is not dischargeable through bankruptcy in any circumstance, and in most cases it’s not. But there are exceptions, and erasing part of or all of your student loans through bankruptcy is a complicated legal issue with a low success rate, but it does remain an option.

For student loan debt to be dischargeable, you must prove that repayment of the loans places an “undue hardship” on you or your dependents. According to the U.S. Department of Education, you must meet the following conditions must to prove an undue hardship:

  • You would be unable to maintain a minimal standard of living if forced to repay the loan
  • It is evident the hardship would continue through most of the loan-repayment period
  • You attempted to repay the loan before filing for bankruptcy

Seek legal help

If you’re burdened with student loan debt and struggling to keep your head above water financially, it may be time to seek help. Discharging your student loan debt through bankruptcy is a difficult and complicated legal process. Consider seeking the help of an attorney. They can help you gather all the documents you need and guide you through the bankruptcy process.

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