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Student Loans/Student Loans, Undiagnosed Illness, and Bankruptcy


I just got diagnosed with a gastrointestinal issue that's been a obstacle I've been seemingly unaware of for over a decade.  The problem with not knowing about my health status is its impact on my educational situation. Basically I took out a lot of student loans and it was like betting on a sick horse. I believe my health issues have had a profound impact on my performance and I feel like I've been taken advantage of.  If I knew what I know now I would never have enrolled in those classes. Now I'm in debt up to my eyeballs and all that debt came from attending classes with holes in guts. I almost wish the finical aid office would have done a physical before approving those loans. You would put a athlete in the game with a injury. Now all I want to do is file for bankruptcy in a matter in which those loans aren't exempt. The only thing is I hear its almost impossible to due such a thing. Do you have any advice for someone in such a situation.

Hi JJ.  I'm sorry to hear about your illness but I am glad to hear that it has been diagnosed and can now be treated.  You don't mention if your loans are federal or private.  If they are federal, I recommend that you apply for income based repayment as this will not only keep the payments manageable, but have a forgiveness component after 25 years (or less) of participation in the program.

Regarding bankruptcy, most courts use what's called the Brunner test determine if a consumer has extreme financial hardship to qualify for bankruptcy.  In the Brunner test, the consumer has to meet three points  - 1 - that paying the loans would cause them to not be able to sustain a minimal standard of living; 2 - that they have made every attempt to pay the loans and 3 - that nothing is ever likely to change.

With federal loans, that same income based repayment option makes it difficult to meet the 1st point of that test because you can indeed obtain affordable payments.  Private loans are different in that they have few if any lower payment options.

I'm afraid that it is unlikely that a physical would ever be required for federal student aid as it would likely be in violation of their civil rights if they were to be subsequently denied due to a health concern.

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I can answer any questions about federal student loans and many about private student loans. I can also answer questions about other types of financial aid. I am not a financial planner or attorney so cannot give investment or legal opinions.


I have worked in the student loan industry for over 15 years - primarily in the compliance area. I also work with borrowers with particularly complicated issues. I had a column answering financial aid questions in several newspapers for seven years and have appeared in several radio and television segments on student loans and financial aid. I have given presentations all over the world on the US financial aid programs.

National Council of Student Loan Programs Massachusetts Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators

Boston Metro Washington Post Express various industry blogs and newsletters

BS in Business Communications.

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