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Student debt is a hot topic right now. Roughly 40 million students owe an average of $30,000 each, making student debt the second largest class of debt among consumers just behind mortgages. When students borrow for their education each year, it is difficult to realize how much all their loans are adding up to be. So when students graduate and get out into the working world, finding a job that pays enough to make ends meet, save for retirement and pay back student debt is near impossible.

It is extremely difficult to get student debt discharged in Chapter 11 bankruptcy. While it’s not impossible, there are a series of difficult and often intrusive questions and requirements that petitioners must meet before being considered eligible for Chapter 11 discharge of student debt. However, under Chapter 13 bankruptcy, known as a restructuring, student debt may be included in the petitioner’s reorganization of bills.

In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the petitioner is made to adhere to a flexible repayment schedule that allows them to settle with debtors for less than they owe through a series of easy to manage payments. One of the main advantages in including student loans in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is that the bankruptcy court, not the lender, sets the payment amount based on what the petitioner can afford. During the repayment period which is anywhere from three to five years, the collection efforts of debtors must stop. This allows the petitioner to make small, manageable payments without being harassed for default.

After the repayment plan period ends, the remaining student debt is due. However, as with any bankruptcy, petitioners often find themselves in far better financial shape after it has been discharged. This fresh start may make it easier to repay the remaining student debt without struggle.

Education is the key to better jobs, better pay and a brighter future. But struggling to pay for it can tarnish any benefit students may receive. It is this type of financial struggle that leads thousands to file bankruptcy each year. There is a way out, even for students owing thousands. To explore the possibilities of a debt free future, struggling individuals should speak to an experienced bankruptcy attorney.