According to American Student Assistance, around 60 percent of all students attending college or pursuing higher education borrow money to pay for tuition. As of 2012, the average student loan balance among all age groups was $24,301, with around a quarter of borrowers owing more than $28,000. These high student loan balances are a major burden on college graduates, especially those who cannot find a job in their field or who are only able to find a low paying job.
Those struggling with student loans and unable to make their payments may find themselves facing aggressive collection actions. Not only can lenders use debt collectors and pursue normal methods of collecting the debt, such as contacting you regularly and taking legal action for default, but student loan debtors also have special legal protections that make it even easier for them to try to get loans repaid. Student lenders, for example, may be able to seize tax refunds and apply the money to student loans.
Those who are facing collections activities and who cannot pay their student loans likely wonder whether bankruptcy is the answer. Unfortunately, due to student loan dischargeability rules, Chapter 7 bankruptcy will not discharge student loans. However, Chapter 13 may help you free up the cash you need to make a living wage.
Rules of student loan discharge in Virginia
When you file for bankruptcy, many different kinds of debts can be discharged. When you get a discharge, that means the debts are extinguished and you no longer owe them. Credit card debts, personal loan debts, medical debts and even some kinds of tax debt can be discharged. Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy involve very different processes leading up to the discharge of debt. But the ultimate goal of both types of bankruptcy is still to wipe the slate clean on debt that is owed.
There are other kinds of debts, however, that cannot be discharged. These debts will survive the bankruptcy discharge, and the debtor will need to continue face ongoing collections. Student loan debt falls into this category. Student loan discharge in Virginia almost never happens. While there is a very limited exception for when repayment would cause undue hardship, this is usually only an option if something terrible has happened such as becoming permanently disabled and completely unable to work.
Outside of extreme situations, there are essentially no way to discharge student loans in Virginia through a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Failure to find a job, lack of earning potential, or even the fact that you did not finish your degree are relevant factors, but not conclusive. Whether you currently have the ability to actually pay the debts back or not, you’ll usually still be stuck with the debt. We don’t think this is fair.
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This doesn’t mean bankruptcy can’t help, since your student loan payments may become more affordable if you can resolve your other debt issues. Still, before filing, you should speak with an experienced bankruptcy lawyer and make sure it makes sense for you to declare bankruptcy if your goal is to deal with student debt.