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How can I use bankruptcy to discharge my federal student loan?

Of the various kinds of debt that an individual might seek bankruptcy relief from, federal student loans can be among the most difficult to get out from under. Even if you were not able to complete your degree, or were not able to find work in the same field as your degree, or even if you feel that the quality of the education that you received was not worth the tuition you paid, you are still obligated to pay your student loans.

Moreover, if you are in a state of financial difficulty serious enough that you are contemplating bankruptcy, in many instances your student loan debt may still survive once you have come out of bankruptcy.

This is not to say, however, that you cannot discharge your student loan debt through a bankruptcy petition. But your attorney must know the right way to go about it, and be able to determine with your help whether the facts in your case will support you in that objective.

The way to obtain student loan debt relief through filing for bankruptcy depends on your circumstances. The most important consideration is the nature of the financial hardship that you may still have in repaying the loan.

The test that a bankruptcy court will apply to your effort to have a student loan debt discharged under Chapter 7 or Chapter 11 will involve three parts. You must satisfy all three parts to qualify:

1. Were you making a good faith effort to repay the loan before bankruptcy? If you were making payments for at least five years, you may satisfy this requirement.

2. Would having to repay the loan after bankruptcy interfere with your ability to maintain a minimal standard of living?

3. Would any such hardship last for a significant part of the remaining repayment period?

Remember, you must meet all three of these requirements or there is a possibility that the court will refuse to discharge your federal student loan.

Your student loan creditor will have the right to attend the hearing that determines these requirements, and to challenge whether you meet them. Your attorney will also be present to argue on your behalf.

Bankruptcy laws purposefully make it hard to discharge a student loan, but if you can satisfy the requirements above it is a possibility to discuss with your attorney.

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