Ready to say goodbye to student loan debt for good? Learn More
X
2020 Best Invention
Amy Carst

Amy Carst

Contributing Writer

Amy Carst is a writer, human rights activist, and speaker. She has written for US News & World Reports, Vice, and various Vermont news publications. She writes for multiple law firms and human rights organizations and studied law until she realized she’d rather write for attorneys than be one. Prior to her career in legal writing, Amy spent several years in insurance and finance. She lives in Vermont with three children and a pit bull called Chompsky.


All ArticlesBankruptcy BasicsBefore FilingCarsChapter 13Chapter 7Credit Card DebtDebtsDeciding To FileDuring Bankruptcy CaseHow To FileNondischargeable DebtsProperty ExemptionsStudent Loans

Articles written by Amy Carst

Understanding the Brunner Test: Can You Discharge Your Student Loans in Bankruptcy?

Written by Amy CarstLegally reviewed by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated January 24, 2024

You can discharge your student loans in bankruptcy if you can prove that repaying the loans is causing (and will continue to cause) “undue hardship.” To determine this, bankruptcy courts and judges use what’s called the Brunner test. The test involves establishing whether you: - Would be unable to maintain a minimal standard of living while repaying student loans - Are suffering from circumstances that will make repayment a hardship for the remainder of the student loan term (or permanently) - Have made good faith efforts to repay the student loan(s) The Brunner test is complex. In the past, courts had little guidance to define “undue hardship,” beyond the somewhat vague Brunner test. Late last year, the Department of Justice and Department of Education released new guidelines to clarify this process for federal student loan borrowers.

Read More →

What is Chapter 20 bankruptcy?

Written by Amy CarstLegally reviewed by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated August 15, 2023

Some people struggling with overwhelming debt find that bankruptcy is the best debt relief solution for their unique situation. Determining which form of bankruptcy to file is largely dependent on the amount and types of debt held, and the financial situation of the individual or married couple. When considering bankruptcy, most people first learn about Chapter 7 and Chapter 13, named for the Bankruptcy Code chapters that govern how they work. But a lesser-known arrangement, Chapter 20 bankruptcy, functions as a hybrid of the two.

Read More →

6 Tips for Settling Credit Card Debt Before Going to Court

Written by Amy CarstLegally reviewed by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated August 9, 2023

If you’ve been sued for credit card debt, you may still have time to settle your debt before you go to court. Follow these six tips to settle your credit card debt outside of a lawsuit: 1. Remember that the other side is motivated to negotiate. 2. Research the debt and decide what your best option is. 3. Negotiate a settlement. 4. Don’t ignore court papers. 5. Accept that you can’t win them all — have a plan B. 6. Watch out for debt settlement scams.

Read More →

When Should You File for Bankruptcy?

Written by Amy CarstLegally reviewed by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated August 8, 2023

Millions of Americans feel overwhelmed by debt, but that doesn’t mean all of them should file bankruptcy. There are multiple paths to debt relief, depending on your unique circumstances. Bankruptcy is only one. However, when other possible solutions, such as debt settlement and debt consolidation fall short, bankruptcy may be the most effective way to discharge debt and get the fresh start you need. Read on for more information about the different types of bankruptcy, and how to determine if filing might be right for you.

Read More →

Cramdown in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Written by Amy CarstLegally reviewed by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated July 26, 2023

In personal bankruptcy cases, a cramdown occurs when the filer pays off a car loan through a Chapter 13 bankruptcy repayment plan by paying only how much the car is actually worth, not how much is still owing on the loan. Upon successful completion of the repayment plan, the filer gets title to the vehicle free and clear.

Read More →

Can You Pay Student Loans With a Credit Card?

Written by Amy CarstLegally reviewed by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated July 5, 2023

You can’t make a federal student loan payment with a credit card. You may be able to use a third-party payment service, but most of these services have high fees. There are also some risks involved in using your credit card to pay your student loans. For example, credit cards often have much higher interest rates than federal student loans, so paying off your loans using a credit card can lead to spiraling debt as interest accrues on your card. This can negatively affect your credit score and put you in a difficult position with your finances.

Read More →

Car Repossession 101

Written by Amy CarstLegally reviewed by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated December 8, 2021

This article will answer some common questions about vehicle repossession, including why it happens, what the steps are in this process, and how you can get your car back, after it’s been repossessed.

Read More →

How To Get Out of Paying HOA Dues

Written by Amy CarstLegally reviewed by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated October 1, 2021

If you live in a condo, you are likely familiar with the term homeowners association (HOA), and the purpose it serves. An HOA essentially creates and enforces the rules governing the property and residents of a condominium or other type of community association. When someone purchases property that is part of an HOA, they automatically become a due-paying member. These dues, called HOA fees, association fees, or association dues, can be low or high, just as the HOA rules may be lenient or very restrictive.

Read More →

3 Things You Should Know About Bankruptcy Course 2

Written by Amy CarstLegally reviewed by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated September 3, 2020

Every individual seeking bankruptcy relief must complete two educational courses: The credit counseling course is completed before the bankruptcy petition is filed with the court. The second course, on the other hand, can’t be completed until after the case has been filed. Without completing both courses, a bankruptcy filer cannot get their bankruptcy discharge. Here are 3 things you should know about the personal financial management course, including how it's different from credit counseling.

Read More →

6 Things about the Automatic Stay Everyone Filing Bankruptcy Should Know

Written by Amy CarstLegally reviewed by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated August 7, 2020

11 U.S.C. § 362 is the technical name of the section of the bankruptcy law that protects all filers from creditor actions while their case is pending. You may have heard of this referred to as the automatic stay. Let’s take a deep dive into how 11 U.S.C. § 362 protects bankruptcy filers, what you can do if a creditor violates the automatic stay and what exceptions to the automatic stay protections you should be aware of before filing your bankruptcy case.

Read More →

Guide to Bankruptcy Relief for Small Businesses

Written by Amy CarstLegally reviewed by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated July 22, 2020

Small business owners who are struggling to pay the bills can often find relief, and even keep their businesses afloat, by filing business bankruptcy. But all bankruptcies are not created equal. To ensure that the outcome aligns with your goals, it is important to determine which type of bankruptcy is best for your unique situation.

Read More →

How to Settle Your Debts in Georgia

Written by Amy Carst
Updated December 20, 2023

Now that you have a better understanding of debt settlement and whether it may be right for you, let’s look at what’s next. Whether you choose to settle your debts on your own or with the help of a Georgia debt settlement company, the information below can help you protect your rights, and help you get your financial situation back on track as soon as possible. 

Read More →

How To Settle Your Debts in Utah

Written by Amy Carst
Updated January 5, 2022

If you’re interested in learning more about whether debt settlement may be a good option for you, this guide will help you make that determination. If you choose to move forward, you’ll find information on next steps below. If you need to explore debt management alternatives, you’ll find information on some potential options at the end of the guide.

Read More →

How to Settle Your Debts in North Carolina

Written by Amy Carst
Updated May 21, 2020

If you are interested in learning more about pursuing debt settlement, whether on your own or through a North Carolina debt settlement company, the next step is to conduct research and gather the information necessary to create an effective plan. Read on about the pros and cons about self-directed settlement, how to choose a reputable debt settlement company, and how to better ensure a successful debt settlement process. 

Read More →

How to Settle Your Debts in New Jersey

Written by Amy Carst
Updated May 21, 2020

The remainder of this guide will give you a preview of whether your credit counselor is likely to recommend debt settlement as an option for your situation. If you decide to proceed with debt settlement, this guide can help you determine whether you should handle the entire process on your own or work with a New Jersey debt settlement company.

Read More →

How to Settle Your Debts in Nebraska

Written by Amy Carst
Updated May 21, 2020

Read on to learn more about how to settle your debts and about debt settlement alternatives. If after a credit counseling session, you determine that debt settlement is the best option for you, you’ll need to determine whether you want to negotiate with creditors directly and you’ll need to take steps to ensure the success of your debt settlement process. 

Read More →

How to Settle Your Debts in Mississippi

Written by Amy Carst
Updated May 21, 2020

After determining whether you’re a good candidate for debt settlement, you’ll need to decide whether you want to work with a Mississippi debt settlement company or negotiate with creditors on your own. The following information will provide further insight into the debt settlement process, and how to begin getting yourself out of debt today, regardless of whether you ultimately choose to settle your debts or manage them in an alternative way.

Read More →
Y-Combinator

Upsolve is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that started in 2016. Our mission is to help low-income families who cannot afford lawyers file bankruptcy for free, using an online web app. Our team includes lawyers, engineers, and judges. We have world-class funders that include the U.S. government, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, and leading foundations. It's one of the greatest civil rights injustices of our time that low-income families can't access their basic rights when they can't afford to pay for help. Combining direct services and advocacy, we're fighting this injustice.

To learn more, read why we started Upsolve in 2016, our reviews from past users, and our press coverage from places like the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.