Document Type

Research Memorandum

Publication Date




Discharging student loans in a bankruptcy case is often an uphill battle. Under section 523 of title 11 of the United States Code (the “Bankruptcy Code”), student loans are presumed nondischargeable. Thus, a discharge is generally unavailable for student loans “[u]nless excepting such debt from discharge . . . would impose an undue hardship on the debtor and the debtor's dependents.” To obtain a discharge, a debtor bears the burden of showing “undue hardship” by a preponderance of the evidence. In determining “undue hardship,” a majority of courts use the Brunner Test. A minority of courts use the more subjective “Totality of the Circumstances” approach explained in Long v. Educational Credit Management Corporation. Regardless of the test, “undue hardship” remains an indefinite concept, and often leads to fact-specific inquiries.


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