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Whether your student loans are considered consumer debts may determine whether you can file a Chapter 7 "straight bankruptcy" case. If you have a lot of student loans, and if they can be classified as non-consumer debts, then you may qualify for Chapter 7 when otherwise you could not have.
Why would that matter? If you wouldn't qualify for Chapter 7 your other alternative would be filing a Chapter 13 "adjustment of debts" case, which requires you to pay all you can afford to your creditors during a 3 to 5 year period.
Instead, under Chapter 7 you could discharge—legally, permanently write off—your other debts within about 4 months and then be able to focus on paying your student loans. Or you could then deal with your student loans in other ways such as through an income-driven repayment plan. You have to financially qualify to go through a Chapter 7 case.
You have to pass the "means test. The "means test" involves as many as three steps. The first step compares your current income focusing on your last 6 months of income with the median income of people of your family size in your state.
If your income is too high, the second step involves subtracting a set of allowed expenses from your income to see whether that leaves you with too much disposable income.
If so, there's a final rare possibility that you qualify by showing "special circumstances. If you don't qualify under the "means test" your Chapter 7 case would be "dismissed"—thrown out—or changed into a Chapter 13 case. Chapter 13 does have significant advantages in the right circumstances.
But it usually takes 3 to 5 years, instead of the 3 to 4 months that a consumer Chapter 7 case takes. So if you don't have special debts or other circumstances requiring a Chapter 13 case, Chapter 7 can be much, much better. This can be particularly true if you have student loans that you want to deal with after discharging your other debts.
Under Chapter 13 you have to pay your "general unsecured" debts as much as you can afford to during the 3-toyear "applicable commitment period. So instead of being able to just quickly discharge non-student loan debts in a Chapter 7 case, under Chapter 13 you have to pay these as much as you can for years.
Also, under Chapter 13 your student loans are paid a pro rata share along with the other unsecured creditors. You do have the advantage that throughout the 3-toyear period the student loan creditors can't take collection action against you.
But you also can't favor them. As a result, by the time you get out of the Chapter 13 case all your student loans are in deep default.
By then you likely have lost opportunities to deal with your loan through income-driven payment plans and other relatively favorable ways.
You may avoid the "means test" and otherwise qualify for Chapter 7. You don't have to pass the "means test" if your debts are not "primarily consumer debts.
Section b 1 of the Bankruptcy Code, with bold added.
In other words, if your debts are "primarily consumer debts" then you have to pass the "means test" or else you are in "abuse" of the law and your case will be dismissed or converted to Chapter But if your debts are NOT "primarily consumer debts" then you don't have to take and pass the "means test.To the executive protection analyst plugging away in a hour operations center, protective intelligence is one thing.
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