Posts Tagged: ‘student loan bankruptcies’

New Bankruptcy Rules Proposed for Student Loan Debtors

July 19, 2018 Posted by kingcade

According to a recent report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, it is estimated that there are around 44 million individuals with student loan debt. The report showed that around $1.4 trillion is owed by total student loan borrowers. Of this amount, around 11 percent of that debt is past 90 days overdue. These figures show one common theme: student loan debt affects many Americans and not in the good way.

Student loan debt becomes an even bigger problem for those borrowers who are not able to keep up on their payments. It has traditionally been impossible for a borrower to have his or her student loans discharged in bankruptcy, which meant that these individuals were continued to be burdened by immense debt even after bankruptcy was over. It seems counter-intuitive since the purpose of bankruptcy is to get a financial fresh start, which has led to recent proposals to change the way student loans are handled in bankruptcy.

A recent bill, the HIGHER ED Act, H.R. 5549, introduced in April 2018 by Oregon Democratic Congressman Peter DeFazio has proposed significant changes to how student loans are handled in bankruptcy. The legislation would broaden the legal definition of “undue hardship,” which is the standard used by bankruptcy courts to determine if a borrower is eligible for discharge of his or her student loan debt.

The “undue hardship” determination has never been truly defined, and bankruptcy courts have had to decide on what it means on a case-by-case basis, and this inconsistent application has led to inconsistent rulings across the board. Earlier in 2018, the U.S. Department of Education had issued a statement requesting public comments on whether the undue hardship definition needed to be modified. The Department had previously expressed concerns that the undue hardship test has kept borrowers from trying to see relief from their debts through bankruptcy.

In a recent study written by Jason Juliano at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, it was found that around 40 percent of borrowers who included their student loan debts in their initial bankruptcy filings ended up with some or all of their debt obligation discharged. That number does not seem too bad until it is compared with the 0.1 percent of filers who actually attempted to discharge their student loan debts. This number shows that people simply do not even feel it is worth trying to discharge their student loan debts.

When it comes to bankruptcy and student loan debt, there are some common misconceptions. One being, that student loans are never dischargeable in bankruptcy. In fact, there are ways to file for bankruptcy with student loan debt.

All of the federal courts of appeals, with the exception of the Boston 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and St. Louis 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals have adopted what is commonly referred to as the Brunner test in defining undue hardship. The test goes through three factors when making this determination:

  1. If the borrower had to continue to pay back the loan, would he or she be able to maintain a minimal standard of living?
  2. Are the borrower’s financial difficulties expected to continue for the next several years, or are they temporary?
  3. Has the borrower made efforts to keep up with student loan payments before deciding to file for bankruptcy?

Under the Brunner Test, the borrower must be able to show that the debt has made it impossible for him or her to support themselves and their families and that the financial situation is not expected to change without the debt being discharged or lifted.

The Department of Education is taking the comments and data received this year and hopes to re-evaluate this criterion. The Department also hopes to change the weights given to each of the three factors and make the discharges more accessible to student loan borrowers who desperately need relief.

Click here to read more on this story.

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. There are ways to file for bankruptcy with student loan 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 McMaken 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 McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

 

 

 

Income-Based Repayment Plans – The Pros & Cons

June 15, 2018 Posted by kingcade

Many individuals struggle to make their student loan payments, and for those borrowers facing six figures in student loan debt, that one monthly payment can be an overwhelming burden.

However, what happens when a borrower is facing over a million dollars in student loan debt?

For one orthodontist featured in a recent Wall Street Journal article, this was his reality. He owed $1,060,945.42 in student loans, with the interest accruing at a rate of $130 daily, which also comes to $3,900 monthly or $46,800 annually.

His income in 2017 was $225,000, and he is paying his student loans back under a federal government income-based repayment (IBR) program. It can seem hardly fathomable that a man of his income level would qualify for such a program. His monthly student loan payment is $1,600. At this rate, he is not making much of a dent on the interest accruing, and it is likely he will stay on his IBR program for the 25-year period allowed. However, after that time, even though he has made barely a dent in the total balance, his student loans will be forgiven with the negative income tax consequences following, of course.

Only 101 of approximately 41 million student loan borrowers owe that much in student loan debt, but for certain career fields, like medical  or law, these debts can quickly add up to $500,000 easily.

The average law student debt varies depending on the school location and any discounts offered in the tuition for the student. However, taking the tuition, costs, and living expenses into account, a law student can come out with $200,000 plus in student loan debt. The law graduate’s dream is to land that high paying firm job, but most end up starting at a salary between $40,000 and $65,000. It is easy to see how someone can become stuck on an income-based program by paying the minimum monthly on a relatively small salary compared to what is owed.

Click here to read more on this story.

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. There are ways to file for bankruptcy with student loan 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 McMaken 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 McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

Student Loans and Bankruptcy: Fixing a Broken System

May 30, 2018 Posted by kingcade

Student loan borrowers have continuously run into roadblocks when it comes to their student loan debt being discharged in bankruptcy cases. Many students graduate with well over six figures in student loan debt, causing them financial hardship for years.

The Department of Education recently solicited comments and input on what loan holders should consider when making a determination on whether to discharge student loans in bankruptcy. As a result, the Department ended up receiving over 400 comments in response to this request.

Currently borrowers have to prove that paying the student loan debt would constitute an “undue hardship” to the borrower. Traditionally, this standard has been a very hard one to meet. For student loans issued by the government, borrowers have had to jump a rather high hurdle to show this undue hardship. In addition, no set standard has been issued for determining what an undue hardship is, resulting in different courts applying different standards.

Only Congress can modify how the law handles discharging student loan debt in bankruptcy cases, but the Department of Education does have some say in making a recommendation on how these cases are handled. An official memo from the Department may go a long way in providing guidance for judges when evaluating these cases.

One possible change is clear criteria will be given to help determine what an undue hardship is. One recommendation has been establishing whether a student loan borrower is near the poverty line, has been determined to be unemployable due to a disability or whether the person is a caretaker for someone who is disabled or chronically ill.

Another recommendation was to make the standard more lenient to allow for more borrowers to be able to discharge student loans in bankruptcy. Congress has never given a clear definition for what undue hardship consists of, but many courts have used the “Brunner” test to determine what this means.

The Brunner test requires that the borrower show that he or she has made a good faith effort in repaying the debt, that the financial circumstance is such that the person cannot have a reasonable standard of living if he or she has to repay the debt, and this financial situation is likely to continue in the future. The problem is this standard is not easy to meet with each court viewing it differently. It has been recommended that courts use a more lenient standard called the totality of the circumstances test, which looks broadly at the debtor’s financial situation to determine if paying the loan(s) back constitutes a hardship.

Other comments suggested that the Department and loan issuers also consider whether the borrower finished college and whether he or she was victim of fraudulent conduct before making an ultimate determination on whether the debt should be discharged. This recommendation follows the issues that have followed students who have attended for-profit colleges who have been accused of enticing students to attend their schools with inflated job placement figures and graduation rates.

The strict standards that have been used in not allowing borrowers to have their student loan obligations discharged have kept many from pursuing bankruptcy when they arguably need this relief the most.

Click here to read more on this story.

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. There are ways to file for bankruptcy with student loan 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 McMaken 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 McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

 

 

Changes on the Horizon for Bankruptcy and Student Loan Debt

May 16, 2018 Posted by kingcade

In the past it has been nearly impossible to discharge student loans in bankruptcy. This issue has kept many individuals from filing for bankruptcy as they have seen it as not helping relieve them of the biggest debt they carry: student loan debt. That all could change after the U.S. Department of Education announced this year that it will be reviewing its policies and potentially changing the way student loan debt is treated in bankruptcy.

It is estimated that student loan borrowers in the U.S. owe a total of $1.5 trillion in student loan debt. According to the Brookings Institute, around 40 percent of these individuals will end up defaulting on their loans by the year 2023.

The current test for showing that student loan debt should be discharged bankruptcy is the undue hardship test. However, this standard is very subjective, and does not leave a definitive standard across the board of what amounts to undue hardship. Even Florida bankruptcy courts vary in their determination on what defines undue hardship.

The most commonly-used test is the “Brunner Test,” which requires the borrower to show that he or she cannot maintain a basic standard of living while making student loan payments. The borrower has to show that this undue hardship would last throughout the entire repayment period in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, and he or she will need to show that efforts have been made to try to repay federal loans.

The Department of Education is looking for ways to clearly define the undue hardship standard. According to Clare McCann, a deputy director of higher education policy at New America, it is likely the Department will broaden the definition.

The Chair of the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell, recently testified before Congress that the student debt crisis has the possibility of seriously hurting the economy if changes are not made.

A date has not been given for when the determination will happen, but it is one step closer to a change that will make a difference in the current student loan debt crisis in the country.

Click here to read more on this story.

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. There are ways to file for bankruptcy with student loan 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 McMaken 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 McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

 

Student Loan Debt is Doubling, Tripling, and Even Quadrupling for Some

May 8, 2018 Posted by kingcade

For a number of individuals, what they borrow in student loans can end up being only a portion of what they wind of up owing.  Student loan debt stands at a staggering $1.5 trillion and outstanding student loan debt has tripled over the last decade in the U.S.  This is in part due to many borrowers seeing their balances spiral out of control. According to Persis Yu, director of the Student Loan Borrower Assistance Project at the National Consumer Law Center, “There are ways these loans are structured that encourage this ballooning.”

Many schools have hired consultants to ‘encourage’ struggling borrowers to put their loans into forbearance, which provides a temporary postponement of payments, for a three-year window, according to an April report by the Government Accountability Office (GOA).  While forbearance prevents a borrower from defaulting and accumulating late fees, there are better options, such as income-driven repayment plans.

When a borrower’s student loans go into forbearance the interest on the debt continues to accumulate. Borrowers are often shocked by the new, higher balance.  Another disappointment is the 2007 program, Public Service Loan Forgiveness, which allows certain student loan borrowers in government or non-profit public service jobs to wipe out their remaining debt after 10 years of on-time payments. However, a number of students claim that after making 10 years of payments and trying to obtain forgiveness on the remaining balance, were told they did not qualify because they had the ‘wrong type’ of loan.  The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued a report last year about how many people believe they are paying their way toward Public Service Loan Forgiveness only to learn they do not actually qualify for one technical reason or another.

Click here to read more on this story.

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. There are ways to file for bankruptcy with student loan 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 McMaken 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 McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.