student loan debt, Student Loans

Facing a Broken Student Loan System Borrowers Set Hopes on New Reform Bill

The student loan system has been considered broken for quite some time, and while many reform efforts have been made to help improve the process, nothing has been successful thus far. However, a new student loan reform bill could signal meaningful change is on the way.

This reform bill focuses on how student loan debt is handled in bankruptcy. Traditionally, student loans are non-dischargeable in a personal bankruptcy case, unless a specific set of criteria are met. The “Consumer Bankruptcy Reform Act of 2020,” proposed by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) proposes a way to make this process easier, allowing more student loans to be discharged through personal bankruptcy. The bill addresses both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases and proposes changing the current systems under each chapter by one system, entitled Chapter 10.  

student loan debt, Student Loans

Bankruptcy Court Discharges $200,000 in Private Student Loan Debt for Colorado Couple

A major victory was scored for student loan borrowers after a U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit issued a ruling stating that a Colorado couple’s private student loan debt could be discharged in their personal bankruptcy case. The ruling allowed $200,000 of private student loan debt to be wiped out, breaking the long-standing stigma that student loan debt, particularly private student loan debt, is near impossible to discharge in a bankruptcy case.

The Colorado couple had taken out $200,000 in private student loans from Navient, one of the nation’s largest student loan issuers. The ruling comes after a similar bankruptcy case, where the borrower also had their student loan debt discharged. In that case, the loan servicer appealed the ruling.

student loan debt

The Student Borrower’s Bankruptcy Relief Act Would Make It Easier to Wipe Out Student Loan Debt in Bankruptcy

Discharging student loan debt in a bankruptcy case has been an almost impossible feat for most filers. That is, unless they are able to meet the undue hardship requirements.  However, a new bill named the Student Borrower’s Relief Act of 2019 could potentially remove those roadblocks that have prevented borrowers from receiving relief in the past.

Bankruptcy offers the filer a fresh start where the individual can rid himself or herself of financial burdens that have been weighing him or her down for years. These debts normally include unsecured debt, including credit cards, personal loans or medical bills. However, if the bulk of the person’s debt is student loans, the filer would normally end up in the same situation even after the bankruptcy was over. While medical debt and credit card debt may have been discharged, the borrower would end up still carrying a large amount of debt. It is for this reason that many borrowers might avoid bankruptcy, seeing it as a no-win situation.

student loan debt, Student Loans

The Presidential Candidates Campaign Proposals for Student Loan Debt

One of the major issues at the center of the 2020 Presidential Election is student loan debt, an issue that affects 44 million American borrowers. Each of the Democratic presidential candidates have his or her own proposal on how to handle this massive issue that seems to be growing every year. Some of these plans would reduce the outstanding balances borrowers hold while others call for a complete elimination of the debt.

It is said that student loan balances have surpassed credit card debt and auto debt. The average undergraduate college graduate leaves school with at least $30,000 in student loan debt, which is triple what graduates had in the 1990s. Every day, 3,000 borrowers go into default on their student loans, which is why all the candidates are calling for some level of reform.

Bankruptcy Law, Debt Relief, student loan debt, Student Loans

How to Discharge Student Loan Debt in Bankruptcy

When it comes to discharging debts in a bankruptcy case, student loan debt has traditionally been one of the most difficult debts to discharge. The fact that this debt can be so difficult to get rid of in a bankruptcy case has kept some consumers from filing for bankruptcy. The problem is it can be very difficult for a person who is in a financially tight situation to keep paying on this debt outside of bankruptcy.  Student loan debt is oftentimes the largest debt a consumer carries, outside of their mortgage.  If someone goes through bankruptcy only to continue being stuck with his or her student loan debt, that person may end up in the same financial situation, again.

Here is how to  discharge student loan debt in bankruptcy.

Undue Hardship

Student loan debt can be discharged if the borrower can demonstrate that he or she would suffer an undue hardship if forced to pay back his or her student loans. However, bankruptcy courts do not have one set standard to guide them in determining what exactly qualifies as an undue hardship. The U.S. Bankruptcy Code does not give a clear definition for what undue hardship is, which could be why so many inconsistencies exist among bankruptcy courts. Some courts will only use the undue hardship test to grant full discharge of the loans while others will allow for partial discharge. Others view the test as an extremely difficult standard to meet while others may be more lenient. At the end of the day, if the borrower has a very low income or took the student loan out to attend a for-profit trade school, he or she may have a better chance to get the obligation discharged, although other factors will be considered, as well.

Bankruptcy Law, student loan debt, Student Loans

Bankruptcy: Finally An Option for Student Loan Debt?

Student loan debt is at an all-time high with 44 million Americans carrying outstanding amounts of the debt. It is currently estimated that $1.5 trillion is owed in student loan debt. With that many people graduating with student loans, it should come as no surprise that many of these borrowers eventually default.

Approximately 11 percent of student loan borrowers have defaulted or were delinquent on their loans by the end of 2018. For the most part, consumer debt, including credit card and medical debt, can be discharged in a bankruptcy case. Only a very select list of debt is not allowed to be discharged at the end of a bankruptcy case, including child support, alimony, criminal fines and certain overdue tax debt.

Debt Relief, Student Loans, Timothy Kingcade Posts

How Student Loan Debt is Different From Other Debt

Debt plagues so many Americans today, but the type of debt varies from person to person. When it comes to debt collections or even bankruptcy, how the debt is treated depends on the type of debt. Student loan debt is one category that is treated differently than other common debt categories involved in bankruptcy.

Student loan debt has doubled since the most recent recession, which presents a major problem for many borrowers who are struggling to repay their loans, so it is extremely important to understand how student loan debt is treated in bankruptcy and collection matters.

Debts normally fall into two different categories: secured and unsecured. Secured debt is “secured” by either another person or an asset purchased, meaning if the consumer defaults on the debt, the lender has recourse to seize the asset.

Unsecured debt is not connected to another person or asset and commonly includes credit cards, personal loans, and medical debt. Student loan debt is also another form of unsecured debt, although it is not treated the same way as other unsecured debt. One major difference is the fact that student loan debt does not go away so easily.

If the borrower fails to pay on a student loan, the lender will likely initiate a collection action, which will result in a judgment against the consumer and likely a garnishment of that person’s wages. The same situation occurs with any other unsecured debt, but the difference is student loan debt is not easily discharged through bankruptcy.

It is possible, but the legal standard that needs to be met for this to be done is quite strict. The borrower will need to prove to the court that a good faith effort has been made to repay the loan, as well as proving undue hardship that is likely to continue if the debt is not discharged. It is not an easy burden of proof, and if the court does not discharge the debt, it will remain with the individual once the bankruptcy is over.

Student loans include both federal and private loans. Those loans that are federal are backed by the federal government and are disbursed by the U.S. Department of Education. On the other hand, private loans are backed by private lending institutions. The difference is critical in that federal student loans are not restricted by a statute of limitation when it comes to collecting on the debt.

In addition, federal loans have certain protections that private loans do not and offer different types of repayment plans in the event the borrower’s life circumstances change. For the most part, federal loan repayment terms are around ten years, but they can be extended or graduated or even income-based in terms of repayment. Additionally, some federal loans offer forgiveness programs.

Private student loans are oftentimes a last resort when it comes to financing education. However, many students max out their federal lending and have no choice but to supplement with private options given the cost of education.

It is currently estimated that somewhere around 40 percent of all student loan borrowers will default at some point on their student loans. Many different mistakes can be made when it comes to student loan repayment. If you believe you qualify for student loan debt relief, speak with an experienced bankruptcy attorney about your options.

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.

Bankruptcy Law, Debt Relief, Student Loans, Timothy Kingcade Posts

Student Loan Borrowers Seeing Some Relief from Bankruptcy Judges

Student loan borrowers are beginning to see some relief in bankruptcy court when it comes to discharging student loan debt. At the start of 2018, the Department released a statement that it was reviewing student loan bankruptcy laws with respect to how difficult it has been for borrowers to receive a discharge of their student loan debt in bankruptcy. Following this statement, some bankruptcy court judges have lessened the standards borrowers are held to when deciding on whether the loan obligation should be discharged.

Since the statement was made by the Department and subsequent request for comments on the current policy, no updates have been given as to whether the Department would be making official policy changes. In the meantime, bankruptcy court judges seemed to have taken a cue from the Department and are now making rulings to make loan repayment terms easier on borrowers for the meantime.

A recent Wall Street Journal report found that judges were more becoming more lenient when dealing with individuals saddled with student loans. Current college graduates are now entering the workforce with well over six figures in student loan debt. Unless these graduates land a job making an income that is comparable to this debt, these individuals soon find themselves unable to make student loan payments. Bankruptcy is meant to provide individuals drowning in debt with a way out, but the current policy with respect to student loan debt has dictated that this obligation stays with the debtor even after a bankruptcy discharge of all other debts.

The study looked at 50 current and former bankruptcy court judges, reviewing bankruptcy cases where the filer had student loan debt. The study showed that a number of the judges were very sympathetic to the cause of the individuals in front of them who were not able to pay their current student loan debt obligations. In fact, many of them understood the struggle all too well with student loan debt since they may also carry debt from law school, or they may be influenced by the struggles they see with their law clerks finishing or graduating from law school. It is estimated that the average lawyer holds just under $120,000 in student loan debt.

These judges are required to follow the legal standard that a borrower must pass the “undue hardship test,” which has traditionally been a strict standard. It has also been a standard that has never been clearly defined by bankruptcy law and has been applied inconsistently from court to court.

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.

Even though the judges’ hands may be tied by the legal standard, they may seek other, more creative solutions to help the borrowers ease their burdens. They may not be able to completely cancel the debt in all situations, but they have tried to help alleviate some of that burden. In some cases, however, some of the more sympathetic judges have completely cancelled the borrower’s past due debt obligation.

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.

Related Resources:

https://studentloans.net/bankruptcy-judges-taking-it-easy-on-some-student-loan-borrowers/

https://lendedu.com/news/some-judges-push-to-ease-bankruptcy-rules-for-student-loan-debt/

 

Bankruptcy Law, Debt Relief, Student Loans, Timothy Kingcade Posts

Dept. of Education’s Announcement Gives Hope to those struggling with Student Loan Debt

With student loan debt at nearly $1.5 trillion, 40 percent of borrowers will default on their student loans by 2023, according to a recent study by Brookings Institute.  The staggering numbers have caused the Department of Education to take action and announce that it will review and potentially alter policies that make it exceedingly difficult for student loan debt to be discharged in bankruptcy.

The problem is that ‘undue hardship’ was never defined and the case law has never led to a standardized definition. Courts often use the “Brunner Test,” which requires you must show that you cannot maintain a basic standard of living while paying the student loans and that this difficulty would last throughout the majority of the repayment period.  You also must prove that you made a good showing of trying to repay your student loan debt.

The Department of Education’s latest actions indicate that they will broaden the “undue hardship” current definition – which is good news for student loan borrowers.   This change could also help streamline the bankruptcy process and help borrowers struggling with massive student loan debt rebuild their lives.

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. 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.

Bankruptcy Law, Student Loans, Timothy Kingcade Posts

Will Student Loans Be Discharged In Bankruptcy Under Trump Administration?

For years, the fact that student loan debt stayed with bankruptcy filers kept individuals sinking in personal debt from filing for bankruptcy. That may all change with a recent statement made by the current administration.

According to the Department of Education, the possibility of borrowers having their student loans discharged in bankruptcy is becoming more of a reality. In fact, the Department is opening comments with respect to individuals requesting an undue hardship discharge of their student loan debt in bankruptcy.

Student loan balances have sky-rocketed over the past few years to an all-time high of $1.4 trillion. The average balance held is now at $34,144, which has gone up 62 percent over the past ten years.

As of September 30, 2017, approximately 4.6 million student loan borrowers were in default on their loans.  The Department of Education now has the national student loan default rate at somewhere over 11 percent. To be in default, a borrower has to have missed making monthly payments for 270 days.

Of course, the fact that the Department is opening the comment period does not guarantee a policy change, but at the least, the Department is interested in hearing what borrowers have to say.

Currently if a borrower is facing issues with student loan debts, the first steps he or she is recommended to take is to postpone payments with either a deferment or forbearance. A deferment will let the borrower put the loan on hold for a period of up to three years, allowing them to catch up on other debts. However, the borrower does have to qualify for a deferment, and if he or she does not qualify, a deferment allows the borrower to at least temporarily suspend student loan payments for a period up to one year. This allows some temporary relief in terms of the large payments student loans often incur, but remember during this time the interest on the loan will continue to accrue and be added to your total balance.

If deferment and forbearance are not options, working with the lender on an income-based repayment plan can allow the borrower to pay a percentage based on his or her income, rather than a flat rate. However, even this option requires the borrower to be at a certain income level.

Student loan discharge is not currently a complete impossibility, but it is an uphill battle. Two legal tests are currently used by courts to determine if a borrower qualifies for student loan debt forgiveness in bankruptcy. Under the Brunner test, the borrower has to be at a certain poverty level such that he or she cannot maintain a minimal standard of living for himself or his or her dependents, the financial situation is likely to persist for a significant period of the repayment period and the borrower has made good faith efforts in repaying student loans. The Totality of the Circumstances test allows courts to look at all relevant factors in the case to determine if forcing the borrower to repay back his or her student loan would be an undue hardship. Both tests require the borrower present evidence and testify in bankruptcy court to get the student loan debt discharged.

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. 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.