November 26, 2020

Student Loans and Bankruptcy

Student loan debt is a significant, ceaseless weight on many Americans. While filing for bankruptcy will discharge many debts – such as credit card debt – it’s virtually impossible to get out of student loan debt. According to FinAid.org, there is an estimated $730 billion in outstanding federal and private student-loan debt, and only 40% of that debt is actively being repaid.

In these tough economic times – where salaries are reduced, layoffs are increasing, and job openings are difficult to find – many graduates are feeling the weight of their student loan debt and finding it difficult to repay. Here are some ideas on how to handle your student loans outside of bankruptcy:

Study your loan to make sure you understand the exact terms and what is expected of you. Then examine your budget and figure out what you can realistically afford to pay each month. Once you know what your budget will allow, familiarize yourself with your options for repayment.

There are several options you can look into depending on your circumstances. You can work with your lender to modify your repayment plan. If the terms of your student loan need to be revised, contact your lender once you know the specific modifications to ask for. Some lenders will let you pay less at first, and then pay more each month which is helpful if you’re expecting to have more money in the future. If your loans are through the Federal Government, you can see your choices at the Federal Direct Loan web site found here: http://www2.ed.gov/offices/OSFAP/DirectLoan/index.html.

Some lenders allow you to defer your student loan payments for various reasons. For example, if you go back to school, work in certain fields, or are unemployed, you may qualify for deferment. But be aware that interest will likely accumulate while your payments are deferred.

If you are can prove financial hardship, you can apply for forbearance, which means you may be able to make reduced payments or suspend payments completely. Just like with deferment however, interest is likely to accumulate.

Another option is consolidation, which allows you to make a single payment each month and can potentially lower interest rates. It is important to know the exact terms and penalties of consolidation.