Emory Bankruptcy Developments Journal


Ryan Freeman


Prior to the enactment of the Bankruptcy Code, student-loan debtors could receive an automatic discharge of their debts in bankruptcy. Now, they cannot. Since the Code's enactment, Congress has pursued progressively harsher standards, continually narrowing the scope of when a student-loan debtor could obtain discharge. Following the enactment of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act in 2005, student-loan debtors now encounter the toughest obstacles to discharge they have ever faced. By extending the protection of the discharge exception of 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(8) to private lenders, Congress effectively placed all students who take out loans to pay for their education at the mercy of a harsh system whose narrow exceptions for discharge force debtors to prove that they face a "certainty of hopelessness" in their future.