As a Pittsburgh bankruptcy lawyer, I get a lot of calls from young people with significant student loan debt. I often hear from folks with over $100,000 in student loans. After reading a blog post this evening in The Atlantic about the prospect of “settling” defaulted student loan debt, here are my three ideas.
1) if you’ve defaulted on a student loan, then you may be facing a wage garnishment of up to 15% from the government. You can file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy plan in order to stop the garnishment and propose a repayment plan through the Court.
It’s virtually impossible to wipe out student loan debt in Bankruptcy Court. You have to prove an undue hardship. Believe me, the student loan companies will fight your hardship claim tooth and nail.
2) another option is to contact your student loan ombudsman, who is a representative at your particular student loan agency. That person may be able to recommend specific repayment programs. Whatever you do, you want to avoid going into default.
3) a third option is to investigate the possibility of entering into the Income-Based Repayment Program. If your student loan debt is high compared to your income, then you may be a perfect candidate. Some loans aren’t covered, such as parent-plus loans, but it’s worth a shot to investigate and learn more.
There are not a lot of options for folks with student loan debt, but don’t go into default if you can help it. And investigate the various programs available to you.