If Congress won’t do it, we’ll do it.
That viewpoint it impliedly and even sometimes expressly stated by federal judges who clearly feel empathy for some of the cash-stressed debtors coming before them encumbered with massive amounts of student debt.
“Massive” is the material word in the preceding sentence. Reportedly, and as noted in a recent Wall Street Journal article, a whopping 45 million debtors currently have education-linked loan repayment duties, to the collective tune of a staggering $1.4 trillion dollars.
How big is that debt mountain?
In fact, it is exceeded only by mortgage obligations as the leading source of consumer debt in the United States.
A growing number of judges have apparently tired of being government mouthpieces that routinely deny relief to overwhelmed debtors. Some courts that have for years dutifully applied a long-entrenched “undue hardship” standard that virtually denies help to most struggling individuals and ensures their long-term penury are now issuing rulings that are more debtor-friendly.
“If the law’s not going to be improved by Congress,” says one bankruptcy judge, “we have to help these young people who are drowning in student loan debt.”
Indeed, it’s not just young people who are over their heads in debt. The Journal notes that many aging adults are “still on the hook for student-loan debt years after college.”
Something needs to change, and judges’ comments are clearly reflecting that. A report that includes judges’ input is scheduled to be released next year that will address bankruptcy modifications and revised student loan debt-relief strategies.