If you have been researching this issue, then you are probably aware of the "Brunner test" for determining "undue hardship" related to the discharge of a student debt under Bankr. Code 523(a)(8).
In Brunner v. New York State Higher Education Services Corp
., 831 F.2d 395 (2d Cir. 1987), the Second Federal Circuit Court
of Appeals ruled that to discharge a student loan, the debtor must prove the following:
- That the debtor cannot maintain, based on current income and expenses, a “minimal” standard of living for herself and her dependents if forced to repay the loans;
- That additional circumstances exist indicating that this state of affairs is likely to persist for a significant portion of the repayment period of the student loans; and
- That the debtor has made good faith efforts to repay the loans.
Your facts show that you are at least close to meeting all three of the tests. If your balances are increasing, rather than decreasing due to the interest being added faster than your principal is being paid down, then that along with the inability to save any money, plus the fact that you are working a schedule that is effectively impossible to maintain without becoming seriously ill, suggests that you are in the ballpark to discharge the debt.
There is no bright-line determination here. You need a bankruptcy lawyer with experience in student loan discharges -- someone who has actually succeeded in obtaining a discharge -- and there are damn few lawyers who can make that claim. But, unless you have someone who has had success, then I wouldn't pay the lawyer a dime to handle that portion of the bankruptcy case, because there's a high probability that he or she will lose and you will have burned through perhaps an extra $5,000 or more to try to jettison the student loan debt.
In my view there is no point in trying to discharge anything other than all of the debts. Either you're free or you're a slave -- there is no middle ground.
That's about all I can offer to you here. For a competent bankruptcy lawyer referral, see this link
(but, do not just accept the referral without the sort of confidence that I've described -- you need someone who has actually succeeded in discharging a student loan).
Hope this helps.
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