Here’s a quick answer to that headline query posed above: It could be.

Although that is certainly not what many people in Arkansas and across the country want to hear, federal law does grant the U.S. Department of Education the power to intercept tax refunds owed filers who are deemed to be in default on their student loans.

Here’s how that works, as explained in a recent online overview of tax refund seizures to satisfy outstanding student loan debt. When delinquency turns to default (that transformation occurs when a debtor becomes 270 days or more in arrears), Treasury Offset Program provisions are triggered that enable government officials to divert refunds.

Talk about a nasty surprise for debtors who don’t receive advance notification of that potentiality. Even with notice, the interception of money earmarked for other things is hardly palatable.

Most Americans are well aware that student loan debt is a monumental problem across the country, with millions of debtors owing many thousands of dollars that can — and often do — take decades to repay.

While they are engaged in that process, of course, mortgage or rental payments are not held in abeyance. Food must be put on the table. Medical bills can become a pressing reality. The daily necessities of life routinely emerge as always, demanding that checks be regularly written to stay off creditors.

The student loan portion of debt can be particularly problematic, given that it is rarely dischargeable through bankruptcy.

Notwithstanding that limitation, though, a solid debt-relief plan that results in less stress regarding other debt exactions (such as medical bills and credit card outlays) can make it easier for a financially strapped person to deal with student loans and assume a more balanced financial posture.

An experienced bankruptcy attorney can help a debtor seeking change fully explore debt-relief options.