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Discharging student loan debt in bankruptcy is tricky at best

Bankruptcy is a fact of life for many Michigan residents. It has allowed them to regain control of their finances and eliminate large swaths of their debts, including credit card debt. Another large source of debt is medical debt -- an issue which often compounds upon itself if a person is out of work as a result. Medical debt can easily multiply when it goes unpaid -- and can be referred to collection agencies.

Another complicating factor in people's finances is student loan debt. Unlike medical debt, student loan debt is often not dischargeable in bankruptcy. However, as we discussed in a recent article posted to our firm's website, this is not an ironclad rule. In fact, under bankruptcy law, if a person is unable to repay student loan debts due to "undue hardship," it might be possible.

People who think this might be an option for them, however, should understand that is a very rare occurrence -- though not technically out of the question. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, where any cases involving Michigan residents would be heard, did rule in favor of a man who was petitioning to have his student loan debt discharged.

The man's circumstances were extreme, to say the least. He originally filed bankruptcy after being diagnosed with cancer and was left unable to work due to his chemotherapy treatments. The following year, he was diagnosed with a debilitating disease that left his bones vulnerable to inadequate blood flow. He suffered severe pain and underwent several surgeries. As a result, he couldn't maintain a baseline standard of living, and he was unlikely to experience a change in circumstances -- two major factors that led the court to rule in his favor.

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