These days, it seems like most Americans are strapped down with debt of some sort, though some obviously struggle more than others. Common debts include medical bills, credit cards, car payments, and mortgages. One of the fastest growing forms of debt, though, is student loan debt, which particularly affects young Americans.
Traditionally, education was considered to be a wise investment since the debtor was making an investment in his or her career, which was expected to benefit from education and degrees. That assumption does not always hold true, though, as higher education doesn’t always pay for itself. In some cases, higher education can even make one less marketable in the workforce. One of the challenging aspects of student loan debt, of course, is that it is extremely difficult to discharge in bankruptcy.
In order to discharge student loan debt in bankruptcy, a debtor has to demonstrate that he or she is unable to do so without “undue hardship.” This means that the debtor is not able to maintain even a minimal standard of living while repaying the loans. In addition, it must be shown that the debtor’s financial situation is likely to be ongoing and that he or she has made a good faith effort to repay the loans. Meeting all of these requirements is not easy, and most debtors just don’t qualify for discharge.
This isn’t to say that those who are suffering serious financial challenges around their student loans should never attempt to have them discharged in bankruptcy, but only to point out the strictness of the law. In most circumstances, those who are strapped down with student loans are going to have to find alternative means of financial relief. This may include filing bankruptcy to have other debts discharged, or it may not.
Those who are struggling with student loan debt and contemplating a bankruptcy filing should consult an experienced bankruptcy attorney to have their case evaluated and determine their options for relief.