USA Today recently published an article explaining that Americans’ student loan debt, which totals approximately $850 billion, now exceeds outstanding credit card debt in the U.S., which totals approximately $828 billion.
Perhaps a more interesting element of this story has to do with the monthly repayment numbers borrowers are expected to pay. The USA Today article suggests that $30,000 of student loans, payable at 6.8% interest over ten years would amount to $350 per month. At this level of debt, the average person would need to earn at least $42,000 per year. Unfortunately, as bankruptcy attorneys we commonly see student loan debt in excess of $100,000, with monthly payments over $1,000.
From a bankruptcy perspective, student loan debt is not dischargeable except in cases of “undue hardship.” In the Eastern District of Wisconsin, the court uses a very strict three part test to determine whether student loans may be discharged. As the law stands today, debtors in the Eastern District of Wisconsin have not been successful in arguing for hardship discharge on the grounds that they cannot find a job that pays enough to support their student loan obligations.