Helbing Law Office Logo by Timothy Helbing located in Appleton, WI serving chapter 7 and chapter 13 bankruptcy

Student loans and undue hardships

Have you heard that it’s impossible to discharge student loans in bankruptcy? This is a very common myth. Though it can be difficult and it is not a viable option for everyone, it is not impossible.

The key is to show that the student loans are more than just debt you don’t want to pay back or debt that is hard to afford; they actually create an undue hardship in your life. They’re destroying your quality of life, you have no way to pay them back, and that’s not likely to change.

For example, perhaps you took out parent plus loans because you wanted to help your kids go to school. You have three children and having you signed onto the loans got them into three local state colleges.

Good intentions

You value education, and you planned to pay off the loans. You were working at a good job, making six figures. Had that continued, you could have made those monthly payments. You’re married, and your spouse has a part-time job that gives you an additional $1,000 every month. In short, you had every intention of paying and it looked possible.

Then you lost your job. Maybe your entire company went under. Maybe they downsized and you were one of the cuts. Maybe you got fired because performance just wasn’t where they wanted it to be.

The reason doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, you’re now living off of about $12,000 per year, all from your spouse’s part-time job. At your age, it’s hard to get back into the workforce. You are $250,000 in debt with student loans by themselves — more than you paid for your house.

Do you have an undue hardship?

You may be able to claim that type of debt load is an undue hardship. It would take everything you earn and then some to make those monthly payments. You wouldn’t be able to pay for basic necessities, like food or a roof over your head.

Plus, it’s not as if you tried to scam your way through the student loan process, taking out loans you knew all along weren’t ever going to be paid back. When you signed on the dotted line, you were completely able and willing to pay. Factors that were out of your control took that away from you. Now you’re strapped with debt and you don’t want your family to suffer because of it.

Remember, student loans aren’t just for students. Parents who have co-signed or used parent plus loans are also on the hook for those payments. When things take a turn financially and bankruptcy becomes necessary — which can happen faster than you think — it’s critical for parents to know all of their legal options.

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