How to file an adversary proceeding for student loan bankruptcy

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As most people dealing with debt know, there are many different kinds of debt and some types are more difficult to eliminate in bankruptcy than others. Student loan debt is one such debt that’s not automatically discharged in bankruptcy proceedings. Unfortunately, this fact has led many people to believe that student loans can’t be discharged at all. Many borrower can discharge student loan debt through bankruptcy, but it requires additional steps.

This post explains how to file an adversary proceeding for student debt bankruptcy in Oregon, and help you decide whether it’s the right move for you.

How Do You File an Adversary Complaint for Student Loan Bankruptcy?

Getting student debt discharged through bankruptcy requires filing for an adversary proceeding. An adversary proceeding is a legal action that occurs within a bankruptcy case; it’s a formal process used to address specific issues or disputes between various parties that cannot be resolved through the regular bankruptcy process.

What are the Steps to Getting Student Debt Discharged through Bankruptcy?

The first step should always be consulting with an experienced bankruptcy attorney. Bankruptcy laws are extremely intricate, and this process is no exception. Need help finding a student loan lawyer? Check out our blog on how to hire the best student loan lawyer for you

If you and your bankruptcy attorney believe your case meets the criteria, you should proceed with these steps:

  • File the complaint: The complaint is filed with the bankruptcy court overseeing your case. There are specific forms and procedures you need to follow, which your attorney will be familiar with. Filing the complaint initiates the adversary proceeding and sets the legal process in motion.
  • Serving the parties involved: After filing the complaint, it must be properly served to all relevant parties, including the student loan lender or servicer. This ensures that everyone involved is aware of the legal action and can respond accordingly.
  • Responses and negotiations: The opposing party will respond to your complaint. This usually leads to negotiations or settlement discussions. Your attorney will guide you through these interactions and help you make informed decisions about potential resolutions.
  • Court proceedings: Depending on the progress of your adversary proceeding, you might need to attend a deposition and trial. Your attorney will represent your interests and present your case to the judge.
  • Decision rendered: The judge will ultimately make the decision. If the court rules in your favor, your student loans will be fully discharged.  The judge can also order a partial discharge if it appears you can pay back some but not all of your student loans.

How Do They Decide Whether to Discharge Your Student Debt?

The judge will make a decision based on your specific situation. The decision is based on three main guidelines:

  • Are you unable to maintain a minimal standard of living for you and your dependents? This is determined by current income and expenses.
  • Is there a likelihood you will be able to pay back your loans in the future? Factors the judge will consider include disabilities, long-term unemployment, and other adverse circumstances.
  • Have you made a good faith effort to repay your loan up until this point? If you’ve enrolled in an income-driven repayment plan, applied for forbearance or forgiveness programs, or consolidation, this can be used as evidence that you have made a good faith effort to pay.

Are You a Candidate for Student Loan Debt Discharge through Bankruptcy?

If student debt is crushing your ability to become financially independent, you may be a good candidate for student debt forgiveness. Of course, as with any possible legal strategy, it’s vitally important to get an opinion from a lawyer with specialized knowledge – in this case, an experienced bankruptcy attorney. An lawyer who focuses his practice on bankruptcy issues will understand the ins and outs of this particular area of law and can review with you some important considerations before you move forward.

While discharging student loans through bankruptcy is not guaranteed, taking the right steps and seeking professional guidance can increase your chances of achieving a favorable outcome and gaining relief from your student loan debt. If you’re ready to start exploring your options for filing an adversary complaint for student loan bankruptcy, give us a call today. Our experienced Oregon-based bankruptcy attorneys are ready to answer all your questions.

How to Get Student Loan Forgiveness After the 2023 Supreme Court Ruling

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Are you burdened with a mountain of student debt that feels like it will never go away? Especially after the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on the student loan forgiveness plan, millions of Americans are wondering if they will ever find relief from these insurmountable loans. 

If you’re in this situation, there’s still some hope. Many people are unaware that there are several different ways they can achieve student loan forgiveness, even after the Supreme Court’s ruling. In this blog post, the debt relief experts at OlsenDaines will explain what you need to know to get rid of your student loans and find financial freedom. 

About the Supreme Court’s Ruling Against Student Loans

In late 2022, the Biden Administration announced its plan to discharge more than $400 billion in federal student loans across the country. Most borrowers would have been eligible for between $10,000 and $20,000 of immediate relief. However, a few states contested the plan and claimed it was unconstitutional, sparking a legal battle that would ultimately determine the outcome of Biden’s original plan.

The case was brought all the way up to the Supreme Court, which on June 30th reached a decision: that the President did not have the authority to automatically discharge these loans. Biden’s original student loan forgiveness plan would not be allowed to proceed.

Ways to Get Rid of Student Loans

Though the Supreme Court’s decision was disappointing for student loan borrowers across the country, that doesn’t mean it’s time to despair. Most people don’t realize that they may already qualify for these other methods of student loan forgiveness:

Filing for Bankruptcy

Historically, student loans have been considered non-dischargeable through bankruptcy. However, thanks to the Department of Education’s policy changes in late 2022, student loan discharge is more accessible through bankruptcy than ever before. The catch is that you have to demonstrate that the loans are inflicting undue hardship upon your financial situation. 

Unfortunately, there is no strict definition of undue hardship – which is why it was so challenging to use bankruptcy for student loan discharge in the first place. However, the Department of Education has established a list of 14 guidelines that can help determine whether a borrower qualifies. Some examples of factors that can contribute to undue hardship include:

  • If the borrower has a disability
  • If the borrower made a good faith effort to repay the loans
  • If the borrower’s income is below the poverty line for their state

While you don’t have to meet all the guidelines to qualify for full or partial discharge, meeting several of the criteria will increase your odds of a favorable outcome. It’s also worth noting that the process of proving undue hardship can be complex, and it’s important to have a skilled and experienced bankruptcy attorney on your side. An attorney can help you navigate the process and increase your chances of success.

 

Income-Driven Repayment Plans

Income-driven repayment plans (IDRs) use your family size and discretionary income to determine an appropriate monthly payment amount. For many people, the IDR can significantly lower monthly payment amounts. And, IDR plans offer complete loan cancellation after making a certain number of qualifying payments – typically over the course of 20 or 25 years. Some of the most common IDR plans include:

  • Pay As You Earn (PAYE)
  • Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE)
  • Income-Based Repayment (IBR)
  • Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR)

The main differences between these plans are the percentage of your discretionary income required in each monthly payment and the amount of time you must make payments before qualifying for forgiveness. 

In addition to the four IDR plans above, the Biden Administration has also announced a new plan called the Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE) plan. This plan has the lowest monthly payment of any available repayment option and offers a number of other benefits to make your debt more manageable. SAVE is rolling out in the summer of 2023 and goes into full effect beginning 2024.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness

To provide relief for full-time employees of government services or non-profit organizations, the federal government also offers Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). This allows the student loans to be forgiven after 120 qualifying payments, or just 10 years, while working for a qualifying public service organization. Some examples of qualifying employers include:

  • Military service
  • Public health
  • Public education
  • Social work
  • Early childhood education
  • 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations

It’s important to note that the 120 payments do not need to be consecutive, but you must fill out paperwork to delineate which payments contribute toward your forgiveness plan. Additionally, not all employers qualify for PSLF. To see if your employer qualifies you for this type of loan forgiveness, use the Department of Education’s search tool for employer eligibility. 

How a Student Loan Lawyer Can Help You

Though there are several methods you can use to find relief from your student loans, the process is rarely easy. But, you don’t have to face it all on your own. At OlsenDaines, we strive to provide our clients with the information and resources they need to combat debt and find financial stability. Whether you need help determining which program is right for you or you need help navigating a bankruptcy case, our skilled lawyers have your back. 

To schedule your free legal consultation, give us a call today!

What to Know About the Student Loan Payment Pause Extension

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Federal student loan payments have been paused since March 2020, and the Department of Education recently announced that borrowers will have even more time before payments are set to resume. Though the loans have been in limbo for nearly three years now, it’s important to remain prepared for when the pause is lifted. To help you get ready for when payments resume, here’s what you need to know about the recent student loan pause extension:

Why the Student Loan Payment Pause Was Extended

Student loans were originally put on hold to provide economic relief at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Though the pause was only supposed to last for a few months, the pandemic continued to severely impact the financial stability of millions of Americans well beyond the expected timeline. To help borrowers through the ongoing public health crisis, the Trump and Biden administrations extended the pause several times over the last few years.

Before the most recent extension, student loan bills were scheduled to resume in January of 2023. However, the Biden administration also took steps toward Student loan forgiveness by announcing that a new program would discharge up to $20,000 of federal loans for each qualifying student.

Before students could find relief through loan forgiveness several states and institutions filed lawsuits against the plan to prevent it from taking effect. With the legality of the forgiveness program in question, the case has gone all the way to the Supreme Court. The Justices have set a hearing date on February 28, 2023, to determine whether the President has the authority to eliminate the loans without an act of Congress.

While student loan forgiveness is being debated in court, the payment pause will remain in effect. According to the Department of Education, the pause is extended because they “don’t think it’s right to ask you to pay on loans you wouldn’t have to pay were it not for the lawsuits challenging the program.”

When Will Student Loan Payments Resume?

Unlike the previous pause extensions, the most recent extension doesn’t have a specific end date. Instead, the timeline will be determined by the duration of the legal battle over the student loan forgiveness program.

If the Supreme Court reaches a decision prior to June 2023, then payments will resume 60 days from the date of that decision. However, if the Supreme Court does not decide by then, the payments will begin 60 days after June 30, 2023. The absolute latest that payments will resume is August 29, 2023 – though borrowers should remain prepared in case the pause ends sooner.

Student Loan Payment Pause FAQs

What does the pause on student loan payments mean?

The pause on federal student loans allows students to temporarily skip payments without consequences. The Department of Education stopped collections on defaulted accounts and set loan interest rates to 0% so that debt does not continue to accrue.

What if I was behind on my student loans before the pause began?

Millions of Americans were behind on student loan payments even before the pause began. To address this problem, the Department of Education announced the Fresh Start initiative, which provides relief to payers who are in default by:

  • Granting access to federal student aid for students with an unfinished degree
  • Not garnishing wages or withholding tax refunds and Social Security payments
  • Restoring the ability to rehabilitate loans later on down the road
  • Providing access to student loan forgiveness programs and IDR plans

Should I keep paying during the student loan pause?

It is possible to continue making payments during the student loan pause, and doing so could be beneficial depending on your situation. Ask yourself these questions to determine if it makes sense for you to continue repaying your loans:

  • Do I have other forms of debt? If you are swamped with debts outside of your student loans, then you should take this opportunity to pay off as much as possible. Use the cash you’re saving on student loans to pay down things like credit cards, personal loans, medical bills, and more.
  • Do I have a healthy savings account? The main purpose of the student loan pause is to give borrowers the chance to build financial stability. If you are living paycheck to paycheck without any backup savings, this payment pause may be a good time to fill up your bank account with a little extra padding.
  • Will I still have a large balance even if student loans are forgiven? If all of your debt could be forgiven through the student loan forgiveness program, then it’s best to wait until the Supreme Court reaches a decision to avoid making payments on a loan that could be wiped out entirely. However, if you will still have a lot left on your account even if a portion of your loans are forgiven – and you have the ability to pay – then it could be a good idea to continue with regular payments.
  • Can I eliminate student loans in bankruptcy? The Department of Education issued new guidelines in November to make it easier to eliminate student loans in bankruptcy.  Many people who could not eliminate student loans int eh past in a bankruptcy, can now utilize these new guidelines and eliminate their student loans.
  • Am I using an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan? With an IDR plan, your loan balance will be forgiven completely after making a certain number of qualifying payments. During the student loan payment pause, each month counts toward a qualifying payment regardless of whether or not you pay. With this in mind, it typically doesn’t make sense to continue with payments when enrolled in an IDR plan.

Will automatic payments restart once the pause is lifted?

Automatic payments will not restart on their own. Borrowers will have to opt-in to confirm their enrollment before payments will be taken out of their accounts.

Student Loan Debt Relief

With the student loan forgiveness program on hold, many borrowers are waiting eagerly for the Supreme Court to reach a decision before taking action. However, it’s best to be proactive so you are financially prepared for the payments to resume, no matter what the legal verdict is.

If you are feeling overwhelmed by your financial situation and are concerned about affording your student loans once payments start back up, don’t wait to get help! The debt relief attorneys at OlsenDaines can help you create a plan of action. With over 20 years of experience serving Oregon residents, we know how to access creative relief solutions that can take the stress of serious debt off of your shoulders. From finding other forms of student loan forgiveness to eliminating debts through bankruptcy, we can help you reach financial freedom no matter what your circumstances are.

Need help regaining control of your finances? Contact us to explore your options in a free legal consultation!

New Updates to Student Loan Forgiveness

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Student debt can be overwhelming. If you have a high balance or have been making payments for years, then it may feel like your loans will never come to an end. Recently, the US Department of Education made updates to its policies that will make it easier for individuals to overcome their student loan debt.

Some of the largest changes to their policies will make loan forgiveness more accessible to individuals on an Income-Driven Repayment Plan, which could offer relief to thousands of students across the country. To take advantage of these new updates to student loan forgiveness, it’s important to understand how they work and who qualifies.

What Is an Income-Driven Repayment Plan?

Income-driven repayment (IDR) plans are designed to help individuals who have student loan payments that are disproportionately high compared to their income. These plans calculate your required payments based on how much you earn annually rather than how much you owe. As a result, your payments could be lower and much more affordable than standard repayment options. Consumers may qualify for one of these four types of IDR plans:

  • Pay As You Earn (PAYE): Takes monthly payments at 10% of your discretionary income without exceeding what you would normally pay with a Standard Repayment Plan.
  • Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE): Takes monthly payments at 10% of your discretionary income.
  • Income-Based Repayment (IBR): Takes monthly payments at 10-15% of your discretionary income based on what you borrow, without exceeding what you would normally pay on a 10-year standard repayment plan.
  • Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR): Takes monthly payments at 20% of your discretionary income, or the amount you would pay over a 12-year fixed payment plan – whichever is less.

Problems with IDR and Student Loan Forgiveness

Most individuals on an IDR can qualify for student loan forgiveness after making consistent payments over 20-25 years. However, there are some challenges associated with IDR plans that could block consumers from having their loans forgiven, even if they qualify. The two main obstacles to having your loans forgiven on an IDR plan are:

  • Progress tracking: To have your student loans forgiven, you must make a certain amount of qualifying payments over the course of 20 to 25 years. One of the largest challenges associated with IDR and student loan forgiveness is progress tracking. Lack of documentation makes it difficult or impossible for consumers to tell when student loans are due to be forgiven.
  • Forbearance steering: IDR plans and student loan forgiveness can be hugely beneficial to consumers, but they are not ideal for loan providers. For this reason, many servicers broke the Education Department’s rules by pushing consumers toward forbearance – or payment pauses – rather than educating them about IDR options. These pauses are not a long-term solution and can allow your balance to grow even more. Not only that, but they also do not count toward student loan forgiveness requirements.

Updates to Student Loan Forgiveness Policies

The Education Department recognizes the issues associated with IDR plans and loan forgiveness. For this reason, it recently announced policy changes that will make student loan forgiveness more accessible to borrowers. These policy updates include:

  • Counting certain long-term forbearances toward IDR forgiveness: To account for previous instances of forbearance steering, the Education Department will make a one-time adjustment to retroactively count long-term forbearances toward forgiveness. This will include a 12-month limit for a single stretch of forbearance, and a 36-month limit for cumulative pauses.
  • Increasing oversight on service providers’ use of forbearance: In order to prevent future forbearance steering, the Education Department will work with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to monitor and regularly audit each loan provider’s use of forbearance.
  • Performing a one-time revision of IDR payments to remedy inaccuracies: Past documentation inaccuracies could prevent qualifying consumers from having their loans forgiven. To remedy these previous mistakes, the Federal Student Aid (FSA) will perform a one-time revision that will retroactively count any months in which borrowers made payments toward IDR.
  • Upheaving the IDR tracking system for better documentation: To permanently fix the IDR payment counting system and prevent future mistakes, the Federal Student Aid office (FSA) will begin displaying IDR payment counts on each consumer’s Student Aid account. This will simplify the counting and tracking process, while showing consumers exactly how close they are to loan forgiveness.

Do FFELP Loans Qualify?

Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) student loans are privately owned but federally backed. Most loans taken out prior to 2010 are FFELP loans, though your service provider can help you determine which type of loan you have if you aren’t certain.

Though FFELP loans can benefit from these updates to student loan forgiveness, consumers must apply to consolidate any commercially held loans into a Direct Loan to qualify. If you want to take advantage of the new IDR fixes, you need to apply for loan consolidation by January 1, 2023.

Get Help With Your Student Debt

If you’re struggling with student debt, now is the time to take action! While it may feel intimidating to navigate all of the Education Department’s student loan policies, you don’t have to manage it all on your own. At OlsenDaines, it’s our goal to help eliminate the stress of debt so you can regain control over your finances. With over 40 years of experience serving Oregon residents, our debt relief attorneys know the intricacies of local and federal laws. We know what it takes to help you get the best outcomes possible, so you can get one step closer to a life without debt. To get help with debt relief, schedule your free legal consultation today!