How to File for Student Loan Bankruptcy

Navigating the complexities of student loan bankruptcy can be overwhelming. If you find yourself drowning in student debt and considering bankruptcy as an option, you’re not alone.

How to File for Student Loan Bankruptcy

This comprehensive guide will walk you through the steps to file for student loan bankruptcy, helping you understand the process and make informed decisions.

Types of Student Loans Eligible for Bankruptcy

Not all student loans can be discharged through bankruptcy. Federal student loans, private student loans, and even some institutional loans fall under different categories when it comes to bankruptcy discharge eligibility.

  • Federal Student Loans: These loans are generally not dischargeable unless you can prove undue hardship through a process called the Brunner test.
  • Private Student Loans: While private student loans are often more flexible, they can be discharged in bankruptcy under certain circumstances.

The Brunner Test: Proving Undue Hardship

The Brunner test is a legal standard used to determine if repaying your student loans would cause undue hardship. To pass the Brunner test, you must meet three criteria:

  1. Poverty: You cannot maintain a minimal standard of living for yourself and your dependents if forced to repay the loans.
  2. Persistence: Your financial situation is likely to persist for a significant portion of the loan repayment period.
  3. Good Faith: You have made a good faith effort to repay the loans.

Bankruptcy Chapters: Which One to Choose?

When filing for bankruptcy, you’ll need to choose between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13, each with its own implications for your student loans.

  • Chapter 7 Bankruptcy: This liquidation bankruptcy may discharge your unsecured debts, including private student loans if they meet the undue hardship criteria.
  • Chapter 13 Bankruptcy: This reorganization bankruptcy allows you to create a repayment plan for your debts, including student loans.

Gather Necessary Documents

Before filing for bankruptcy, gather all relevant financial documents, including:

  • Tax returns
  • Pay stubs
  • Loan statements
  • Expenses records

Consult with a Bankruptcy Attorney

Hiring an experienced bankruptcy attorney can make a significant difference in your case. They can guide you through the process, help you understand your options, and represent you in court if necessary.

Complete Credit Counseling and Debtor Education Courses

Before filing for bankruptcy, you’re required to complete credit counseling and debtor education courses from an approved provider.

File the Bankruptcy Petition

Once you’ve gathered all necessary documents and completed the required courses, your attorney will help you file the bankruptcy petition with the court.

Attend the Meeting of Creditors

After filing your petition, you’ll need to attend a Meeting of Creditors, where you’ll be questioned about your financial situation. Your attorney will accompany you and help prepare you for this meeting.

Follow Court Orders and Complete the Repayment Plan (If Applicable)

If you’re filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy and have a repayment plan, it’s crucial to follow court orders and make timely payments to creditors.

Discharge of Student Loans

If your student loans are discharged, you’ll no longer be obligated to repay them. However, this is a rare outcome and typically only happens if you pass the Brunner test.

Repayment Plans and Restructuring

If your student loans are not discharged, you may still benefit from a more manageable repayment plan or loan restructuring as part of your bankruptcy proceedings.

Rebuilding Your Credit

Bankruptcy will have a negative impact on your credit score, but with responsible financial management, you can rebuild your credit over time. Start by creating a budget, making timely payments on remaining debts, and avoiding new debt.


Filing for student loan bankruptcy is a complex process that requires careful consideration and expert guidance. Understanding the types of student loans, the Brunner test, and the bankruptcy chapters can help you navigate this challenging journey more effectively. Remember, bankruptcy should be a last resort, and it’s essential to explore all other options before making a decision.

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