Student loans have become our modern-day debtor prisons

Image caption: NHPR.org

In 2017, Vera Thomas, 62, filed for bankruptcy relief. At the time, Vera was chronically ill and had been unemployed for two years. A Dallas resident, Vera had no income, subsisted on food stamps and was facing eviction. The bankruptcy court wiped out her credit card debt, medical bills and auto loan—but not her student loans.

The federal government, as it frequently does, fought Vera’s discharge by arguing her situation wasn’t hopeless enough to warrant erasing her $7,800 student loan debt.

Sadly, Vera is not alone. Thousands of Americans in dire financial straights are being chained to debt they cannot afford. Until 1990, student loans could be discharged in bankruptcy court after the fifth year of repayment. Since then, Congress has repeatedly made erasing education debt more difficult.

Debtors must prove that paying the loans poses an “undue hardship” –a term Congress has never defined and which many courts interpret in the narrowest possible terms. The government and the Educational Credit Management Corp., the private entity the Education Department often hire to fight bankruptcy cases, typically argue that borrowers should sign up for income-based repayment plans that stretch up to 25 years. They push these plans as an alternative to bankruptcy discharge even when borrowers’ incomes are so low, their payments would be zero.

People who max out their credit cards can erase that debt in bankruptcy. So, too, can those who don’t have health insurance and then get slammed with medical bills. While most people with student loans pay them off in a timely manner, those who can’t afford to do so should not be shackled with their student loan debt for life.

That’s why it is important to hire an experience bankruptcy attorney to make sure this system does not take advantage of you. At Hoskins, Turco, Lloyd & Lloyd, our experienced team of bankruptcy attorneys are dedicated to guiding our clients out of difficult financial situations. Led by Bankruptcy Attorney and Partner Colin Lloyd, our firm’s Bankruptcy Department has helped thousands of clients make a fresh start and get back on their financial feet.

During your complimentary bankruptcy consultation at any of our offices in Port St. Lucie, Vero Beach, Fort Pierce, and Okeechobee, we’ll sit down with you and take the time to discuss the personalized bankruptcy or foreclosure option that best fits your particular scenario.

To set up a FREE Consultation with a Bankruptcy Attorney in Port St. Lucie, Vero Beach, Fort Pierce, or Okeechobee, call us today at 866-460-1990.

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