A recent law school graduate with close to $300,000 in student loan debt is asking for the U.S. Supreme Court’s help in getting it discharged in bankruptcy. Courts including the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Seventh and Eighth circuits are split on what constitutes “undue hardship,” the determining factor as to whether a debtor is eligible for a bankruptcy discharge. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit is also on the fence with the issue.
Law school debt has been getting more attention recently. Lawmakers on both sides have “sharply criticized U.S. law schools” for burdening students with crushing debt and non-marketable degrees, according to Bloomberg Business.
This particular student’s alma mater – Florida Coastal School of Law in Jacksonville, FL – has received some negative press about its graduates’ debt. Those in the 2015 graduating class that had debt (93 percent) carried a balance of almost $163,000. In addition, the median Law School Admission Test (LSAT) score for Florida Coastal students was in the bottom 25%.
This student has failed the bar exam for the third time and is living at home with his parents below the poverty line. According to the debtor’s petition, he has struggled with depression and misdemeanor convictions, which make it difficult to find work in the legal field.
It is extremely difficult to prove undue hardship in the Seventh Circuit, without the presence of a serious medical condition, like Alzheimer’s disease or being paralyzed in a car accident. The bankruptcy laws are supposed to be uniform, but there is a split on what the courts consider undue hardship.
The Eight Circuit uses a “totality of the circumstances test,” which is a more flexible standard. It allows bankruptcy courts to consider a variety of factors when determining undue hardship. As a result, if a debtor lives in Arkansas – in the Eight Circuit – like in this case, there is a good chance the high court will grant the certiorari.
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For borrowers who are struggling with student loan debt, relief options are available. Many student loan borrowers are unaware that they have rights and repayment options available to them, such as postponement of loan payments, reduction of payments or even a complete discharge of the debt. It is important you contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade & Garcia, P.A. has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.