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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

DOJ, DOE announce process for discharging federal student loans in bankruptcy

Federal Issues DOJ Department of Education Student Lending Discharge Consumer Finance

Federal Issues

On November 17, the DOJ, in coordination with the Department of Education (DOE), announced a new process for handling cases involving individuals seeking to discharge their federal student loans in bankruptcy. According to the DOJ, the process will leverage DOE data and a new borrower-completed attestation form to assist the government in assessing a borrower’s discharge request. The DOJ also noted that the process “will help ensure consistent treatment of the discharge of federal student loans, reduce the burden on borrowers of pursuing such proceedings and make it easier to identify cases where discharge is appropriate,” and “help borrowers who did not think they could get relief through bankruptcy more easily identify whether they meet the criteria to seek a discharge.” The DOJ and the DOE will review the information provided, apply the factors that courts consider relevant to the undue-hardship inquiry, and determine whether to recommend that the bankruptcy judge discharge the borrower’s student loan debt. The DOJ also distributed guidance outlining the new process to all U.S. Attorneys.