A Student Loan’s Undue Hardship Just Got Easier to Grade Skip to main content

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A Student Loan’s Undue Hardship Just Got Easier to Grade


For most recent college and post-college graduates, the hot summer months are a chilly reminder that student loan repayment deadlines are mere months away. These impending debts arrive at some of the toughest economic times ever for the newest round of job seekers, as the nation, and especially its youngest workers, continue to face record unemployment and mounting consumer debt. So what happens when poor economic conditions coincide with mandatory payback timelines for budget-busting student loans? Two words: loan defaults. Now, the countdown is on as many recent grads will soon exceed the 270-day window for paying back their educational debts, beginning a bad precedent for staying current in an economy that may or may not be heading into another recession.

As a result, many student loan borrowers are left wondering: can bankruptcy help?

Normally big debts, high interest rates and no job would be the perfect equation for making a new financial start using bankruptcy. Unfortunately, in most cases, student loans debts are exempted from the list of debts absolved during the bankruptcy process. In fact, student loans must be found to create an “undue hardship” in order to be eliminated or reduced in bankruptcy court—creating a high standard for making a dent in a debtor’s often most astronomical debts.

Well, now there’s a little more bankruptcy light at the end of the student loan tunnel. In a recent case, the 8th Circuit Federal Bankruptcy Appellate Panel upheld a bankruptcy court’s decision to discharge $300,000 in student loans. The court in In re Walker found that the debtor’s inability to work due to family circumstances justified a discharge of her student loans. In this particular scenario, the debtor had taken on a large amount of student loans pursuing a bachelor’s degree and several postgraduate degrees while raising five children, two of them with autism. As a result, the student-mom was unable to maintain high-paying employment that would allow her to repay her massive student loan debts.

Ironically, in most bankruptcy cases, the same $300,000, if placed on a credit card or wrapped up in a bad mortgage, could be easily discharged in bankruptcy—automatically expunged under Chapter 7 and significantly reduced in case of Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

However, the liberal decision in In re Walker to forgive the debtor’s student loan debt due to her family circumstances should hearten many recent grads struggling to balance family, low-paying jobs and whopping educational debts. In addition, the tide also seems to be turning at the legislative and executive levels, as the Obama administration and Congress consider making it easier for debtors to discharge private student loan debt.

In short, relieving financial burdens early in your adult life and career can pay dividends later: allowing you to rebuild credit as you build your career and repay your educational loans earlier in the game. As a result, if you too have been affected by the economy and are wondering how to reduce student loan debt—and stress— knowing a qualified bankruptcy attorney can also help you to conquer your creditors and face your financial fears, yielding the right kinds of support, information and insights—at a low cost— for a viable and secure future beyond our own “Great Recession.”  The bankruptcy experts at the Law Offices of John T. Orcutt offer a totally FREE debt consultation and now, more than ever, it’s time to take them up on their offer. Just call toll free to +1-919-646-2654, or during the off hours, you can make your own appointment right online at www.billsbills.com. Simply click on the yellow “FREE Consultation Now” button.

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