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Can bankruptcy give you relief from student loan debt?

For many professionals in the United States, an advanced degree forms the foundation of their career. However, the student loans required could be a crippling burden. The amount of student loan debt totals a record $1.6 trillion, and many will be unable to fully repay this debt.

Over the past several decades, the United States government has made it more difficult to have student loan debt discharged as a part of bankruptcy. This has led to many believing that it is impossible to do. However, the court may discharge student loan debt if you can show that the debt constitutes an undue hardship.

What constitutes an "undue hardship"?

Most federal courts of appeal use the Brunner Test-guidelines established in a 1987 federal court ruling-to evaluate the hardship that a loan creates. Undue hardship requires evidence that:

  • Repaying the loan would prevent you from achieving a minimal standard of living
  • This hardship will continue through much of the remaining loan repayment period
  • You have made a concerted effort to repay your student loan debt before filing

If the court determines that your student loan debt is an undue hardship, there are several ways that you could be granted relief. The court may discharge your debt entirely or in part. It may also grant you different, more favorable terms on your loan like a lower interest rate.

If you are struggling with student loan debt, speak to an experienced attorney about your options. You may be eligible for relief from your student loan debt through bankruptcy.

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