Borton Petrini

Can I avoid paying back my student loans if I file bankruptcy

Q: Can I avoid paying back my student loans if I file bankruptcy?

A: The general answer is NO.

In very rare circumstances student loans can be discharged in bankruptcy.  To get a discharge, after filing the bankruptcy, the debtor needs to file an adversary proceeding within their bankruptcy and prove with admissible evidence he/she is entitled to discharge the loans.  The bankruptcy judge will determine if an undue hardship will affect the dependents of the debtor.  If you do not have dependents, the chances of getting a discharge is very low unless you are disabled.  If the undue hardship standard is met, and if a good faith effort to pay the loans has been well documented,  the court has discretion to discharge the loans in their entirety or partially.

Undue Hardship is defined as the inability (now or in the future) to repay the student loan debt and still maintain a minimal standard of living.  The judge will look at 3 areas of concern:

  1. Would you be able to maintain a minimal standard of living if you had to repay the loan?
  2. Are the financial difficulties you face temporary, or are they expected to continue for several years?
  3. Have you made reasonable efforts to keep up with your payments before filing for bankruptcy?

The judge will also consider whether you’re seeking a discharge for your student loan hardship in good faith. That means he or she will determine if you have tried to repay your loans and failed, or whether you created a hardship for yourself through poor financial decision-making.


Calvin Stead



Cal Stead is a Partner in the Bakersfield office of Borton Petrini, LLP.



Bankruptcy and Creditors’ Rights

Legal Disclaimer: Please be informed that legislation and laws are rapidly developing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Therefore, the legal analysis that is being provided is based on the analysis of the current legislation and current agency guidance, as it stands at this moment.  Additional legislation and/or changes to current legislation may impact the information being given herein.  This article is designed for general information only. The information presented should not be construed to be formal legal advice, nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.


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