For those struggling financially, student loans often increase money woes. Unfortunately, this is one debt you just can't escape – even in bankruptcy court. The government offers several options for borrowers with money woes, but these measures are temporary. The only way to get out of this debt forever is to have it discharged, or permanently wiped out.
Currently, most student loan discharges result from the borrower's death or permanent disability. The Department of Education says "very few" loans are discharged through bankruptcy. In a typical bankruptcy, student loan debt remains intact. To get it discharged, the borrower must specifically request an adversary hearing. Few people do this, probably because they don't know how the process works or they fear they'll need to pay for a pricey lawyer.
Chuck Stewart, author of Bankrupt Your Student Loans, hopes by educating people about the process he'll encourage more borrowers to consider this option. Stewart says roughly half of all people who file for bankruptcy have student loans, yet he estimates only a few hundred request adversary hearings each year. If that number was higher, Stewart predicts the rules would be changed so loans would be routinely wiped out through bankruptcy, as was the norm years ago. "If even 100,000 people did this every year, it would overwhelm the system and they'd be forced to change it."
Until then, borrowers need to follow the current process. When filing for bankruptcy, you must request an adversarial proceeding, where you must prove the loans cause an undue hardship. Be prepared to fully document your financial situation and your inability to make student loan payments now or in the foreseeable future. You must continue to make your student loan payments while the court considers your request.
For more info: to learn more about wiping out student loans through bankruptcy, visit Stewart's Web site.