Student Debt and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
Student debt has been a quickly growing issue across the country. For example, around 45 million people are saddled with $1.56 trillion in student loans and climbing. Likewise, student debt in Florida is growing faster than in any other state. 2.4 million Floridians owe over $85 billion in student debt!
Many individuals struggling with student loan debt turn to bankruptcy as an option. From the moment you file a Chapter 13, the “Automatic Stay” protects you from collection efforts of any kind by your creditors. A creditor must seek permission from the Chapter 13 judge to resume collection activities. However, this is extremely rare.
Student Debt Repayment Through SLMP
The US Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Florida has taken the lead on managing student debt through the bankruptcy system. The MDFL has implemented the brand-new Student Loan Management Program (SLMP). It is meant to streamline the process for obtaining relief federal and private loans.
The Middle District of Florida finds itself yet again on the cutting edge of bankruptcy law. They have pioneered the Mortgage Modification Mediation Program during the foreclosure crisis. The MMMP model succeeds by inserting a third-party portal to ensure honest actions by mortgage servicers. The bankruptcy judges have employed a similar portal system. It guarantees student loan servicers are transparent in their dealings with borrowers.
In the past, it was a common strategy to put student loans to sleep in chapter 13 bankruptcy cases by placing them in forbearance. Often, this was the best strategy. It freed up debtor income to pay off other, more pressing debt like a mortgage, a car or back taxes. However, placing student loans in forbearance during a Chapter 13 comes at a considerable cost. The student loan interest continues to accrue. On an 8% loan, that could increase the principal balance by 50% during a 5-year plan of reorganization.
The SLMP seeks to end the high cost of forbearance on student debt during bankruptcy. The goal is to raise awareness of the repayment options and increase communication between borrowers and their student loan servicers. Student loan servicers are not required to modify loans. However, the Bankruptcy Code imposes a duty to act in good faith. Student loan servicers have a history of dealing with borrowers in bad faith. It makes sense to use an experienced attorney to ensure the modification process follows the federal requirements imposed upon servicers.
Help for Student Debt in Jacksonville, FL
Parker & DuFresne wants to break the cycle of endless loan payments. So, using the SLMP program, we can help you set up an effective repayment option for your loans to eliminate your debt. Contact us today.