Woman Discharges $340K in Student Loan Debt in ‘Unique’ Decision

You may have read about Carol Todd, the Nottingham, Maryland woman who had $339,361 in student loan debt discharged last month because her Asperger’s syndrome prevents her from holding a job. Judge Robert A. Gordon, a bankruptcy judge for the District of Maryland, decided that the loans Todd took on constituted an “undue hardship” and would be included in her general discharge.

According to the Baltimore Sun, Todd received her high school general equivalency diploma (GED) at age 39 before receiving an associate degree, a bachelor’s degree and two master’s degrees through various schools. Despite all the higher education, Todd was never able to keep a steady job. “To expect Ms. Todd to ever break the grip of autism and meaningfully channel her energies toward tasks that are not in some way either dictated, or circumscribed, by the demands of her disorder would be to dream the impossible dream,” Gordon wrote in his judgment.

I feel it is important for people to understand that this type of discharge is extremely rare. “The courts have applied a very strict standard to that exception,” Lawrence D. Coppel, the founder of Maryland’s Bankruptcy Bar Association, told the Sun. “Most of the decisions that are published deny the discharge and refuse to find a hardship exception, even in cases where there’s clearly hardship—so the decision by Judge Gordon … is unique.”

Student loans are just one example of the types of debts that are often nondischargeable in Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. As Coppel told the Sun, it is “very difficult to discharge a student loan,” but there are other debts that are essentially considered to be automatically nondischargeable. Since I often write about the debts that can be discharged in Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, this week I will focus on some other types of debt that are frequently difficult to settle or cannot be discharged.

Law Firm of Kevin D. Judd – Washington DC bankruptcy attorney

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