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Can you discharge student loan debt in bankruptcy?

The amount of student loan debt in the United States has become a genuine crisis. In 2018, the total amount of student loan debt reached $1.5 trillion. Numerous people in Pennsylvania have to contend with this, and sadly, many are unable to ever completely eliminate the debt. 

As a result of succumbing to too many debts, many in the state have no choice but to resort to bankruptcy. While it tends to be a dirty word, it has helped many people across the country take control of their finances. However, it will not help you in every endeavor. As a result, many people wonder if filing for bankruptcy will eliminate student loan debt once and for all. 

Generally, you cannot discharge student loan debt

There are only certain kinds of debt you can get rid of through bankruptcy. Unfortunately, student loans are not one of them. This was not always the case. Prior to 1976, courts allowed people to discharge student loan debt when filing for bankruptcy. However, Congress steadily changed the law on the subject. At first, people could only discharge student loans if they had made successful payments on them for at least five years. That number slowly grew until today, where people cannot discharge at all unless they can prove undue hardship. 

The Brunner test

It is difficult to discharge student loans, but it is no impossible. To see if you qualify, you have to go through the Brunner test. This is a legal test that determines whether paying off your student loans would result in an undue hardship following bankruptcy. You will have to prove there are extenuating circumstances resulting in the hardship, and that those circumstances will continue for as long as you have the loan. You also need to show you have provided good faith payments to try to pay back the loan. It is a long shot, but some individuals have found success. 

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Cunningham, Chernicoff & Warshawsky, P.C.
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Harrisburg, PA 17110

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