Sick and Buried in Sallie Mae Student Loans

Dear Steve,

I went to graduate school at a tiny liberal arts college from 2006-2008. I graduated with an M.S.Ed. in 2008 and went on to teach for two years.

I became really ill while pregnant in 2010 and my son was born in September 2010. Since his birth, my son has been very ill and has had four surgeries and we deal daily with significant food allergies.

I am unable to work full time but work part time. I have been dealing with mental illness for many years and things have worsened since 2010 with the onset of PPD and PPP. Furthermore, my school lost accreditation in 2009.

Help, I applied for income based repayment with Sallie Mae, but they defaulted my loan anyway in kind of a shady move. What can I do? Should I file for bankruptcy or get a lawyer or both?


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Dear Anna,

I'm sorry to hear about the other life issues you've been struggling with. It sure sounds like you've got your hands full and trying to do the best you can with the hurdles in front of you.

The problem with private student loans is there is really no long term income based repayment option. They have none of the advantageous repayment options like federal student loans do.

But just because these are with Sallie Mae does not immediately mean we can assume these are not eligible for some federal student loan repayment programs. The only way to check this out easily is to see if these loans are listed on the federal student loan database.

You can do that by following my NSLDS links in this guide.

Now if the loans turn out to not have any federal component to them at all and are truly private loans then all hope is not lost. On the plus side you do have a good supporting story why these loans should be partially or fully discharged. You also appear to meet the general criteria for people have been successful in reducing or eliminating their loans through bankruptcy. See this article.

On the con side you will need to hunt to find a bankruptcy attorney with experience in dealing with student loans. One place to start is by using my bankruptcy attorney directory. I've been trying to add attorneys there who have this type of experience.


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