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Filed Bankruptcy, in the Middle of a Divorce, and Student Loan Forbearance Ending Soon

Written by Steve Rhode

Question:

Dear Steve,

Bankruptcy discharge February 2016.

Separation from husband March 2016.

Still in divorce proceedings.

My student loan is in forbearance that will be ending soon.

What if your bankruptcy was filed prior to July 2015 date mentioned in the article and now I’m going through a divorce with no chance of child support. I have a good salary but my student loan (for my MBA) is putting an undue hardship on my family. do I have any options? The interest is killing the loan.

Maria

Answer:

Dear Maria,

It must be a terrible time right now. Stressful and complicated for sure.

You did not indicate if your student loans were federal or private so if you could update me in the comments below, I can give you more specific advice.

In general, student loans are not automatically discharged in bankruptcy. They require a special action, actually for you to sue the lender in a bankruptcy suit known as an Adversary Proceeding. I doubt your bankruptcy attorney did this so you should expect your loans to be payable. However, if you can find a bankruptcy attorney licensed in your state with student loan experience they could go back and file this suit. Some people have done this on their own but it’s not for the faint of heart.

There are a number of reasons why a student loan may be discharged in bankruptcy. For private loans you have issues surrounding the status of the school, how the loan was used, if the lender can validate the debt. For both private and federal you have issues surrounding the totality of financial circumstances and the inability to pay. These typically involve job loss and illness.

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About the author

Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.

4 Comments

      • Hi Steve,
        My loan is federal not private. My salary is over 100k, but when you call Navient they don’t seem to care if filed bankruptcy or getting divorced and now have all the bills plus your children with no additional income to help out. Do you have any advice to negotiate with Navient?

        • So here is the deal, federal income drive repayment programs are based on discretionary income. “For Income-Based Repayment, Pay As You Earn, and loan rehabilitation, discretionary income is the difference between your income and 150 percent of the poverty guideline for your family size and state of residence. The poverty guidelines are maintained by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and are available at http://www.aspe.hhs.gov/poverty.”

          Outside of an income driven repayment program https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/understand/plans/income-driven you can look at the repayment estimator to see what options are available. https://studentloans.gov/myDirectLoan/mobile/repayment/repaymentEstimator.action

          Here is what is certain, there are federal repayment plans that will deal with your situation in one way or another. A forbearance approach was just a way for Navient to kick you case down the road rather than deal with it. See https://getoutofdebt.org/100858/navient-sued-cfpb-failing-student-loan-borrowers

          “When borrowers run into trouble repaying their federal student loans, they have a right under federal law to apply for repayment plans that allow for a lower monthly payment. But the Bureau believes that Navient steers many borrowers into forbearance, an option designed to let borrowers take a short break from making payments. But interest continues to add up during forbearance. Certain consumers with subsidized loans end up paying a heavy price because they could have potentially avoided those interest charges. From January 2010 to March 2015, the company added up to $4 billion in interest charges to the principal balances of borrowers who were enrolled in multiple, consecutive forbearances. The Bureau believes that a large portion of these charges could have been avoided had Navient followed the law.”

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