Bankruptcy and Student Loans Don’t Always Mix
Dont expect to weasel out of those student loans by filing bankruptcy. Even if student loan debt makes up a majority of an individuals debt theres a good chance that the loan will not be discharged. The governments rules for bankruptcy were changed in 1998 and student loans were ruled to be a non-dischargeable item.
Additionally, the government was losing millions of dollars on loans that were guaranteed by the federal government when the loans were discharged through bankruptcy.
With the rules of bankruptcy today, a person filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy must prove that they will have undue financial hardship if the student loans are not discharged. In most cases if student loans make up a large portion of the individuals debt, a portion of the loan may be discharged by the judge but not the entire amount.
If the student loans have been sold repeatedly to other lenders with varied interest rates, the exact balance may be hard to determine. In cases such as this, some or all of the entire balance may be discharged.
Under the provisions of Chapter 13 bankruptcy, a debtor can arrange to have all of their unsecured and secured debt become part of a repayment plan through a court trustee. In these cases of bankruptcy and student loans are included, the person must meet specific criteria, for example showing they have sufficient income to make the monthly payments determined by the court to pay off the total debt within five years.
Proving Debtor Has Ability To Pay
In order to file Chapter 13 bankruptcy, an individual needs to prove that they can repay the debt. For instance, if their total debt is $100,000, the trustee divides that total by 60 months and comes up with a monthly payment of $1.667 a month. The individual must show that they can pay this monthly payment and have enough left over for living expenses. If they are able to meet this criterion then they may be able to file Chapter 13 bankruptcy and include their student loans in the deal.
If their income is not sufficient to cover the monthly payment plus living expenses then filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy is not an option for them. The only alternative is to file Chapter 13 bankruptcy on their other debts, which may free up money for them to pay their student loans.
Making the monthly-required Chapter 13 bankruptcy payment in addition to student loan payments may be a struggle for some. One option is to secure a loan with lower interest rates and lower payments to pay off their student loan debt.