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How It Started… One Upsolver’s Quest To Discharge Her Student Loans

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In a Nutshell

One Upsolver who is actively in the process of seeking a discharge of her student loans has shared parts of her journey with us. While her incredibly detailed outline will soon be turned into a guide of sorts, we thought it might be helpful to give others an idea of where she started.

Written by the Upsolve Team
Updated August 1, 2023

One Upsolver who is actively in the process of seeking a discharge of her student loans has shared parts of her journey with us. While her incredibly detailed outline will soon be turned into a guide of sorts, we thought it might be helpful to give others an idea of where she started. 

Step 1 - Get Some General Answers 

She researched what an adversary proceeding is, whether there’s a timeframe or deadline she needs to worry about (there isn’t a deadline for the initial filing) and what the “Brunner Test” and the “Totality of the Circumstances Test” are exactly. 

(Answer: They’re how judges analyze whether someone’s student loans should be discharged.)

She also made sure to double check whether her loans were private or federal student loans.

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Step 2 - Learn the Lingo 

In addition to figuring out which test her judge would use, she also buckled down and learned some vocabulary, like “preponderance of the evidence” and “undue burden” and got up close and personal with any case law she could find. 

She read cases (as in the judge’s written decisions) involving the Department of Education where the judge granted the discharge and where the judge denied the discharge. 

Step 3 - Craft Your Complaint

Admitting that it sounds harder than it is, she started this process by “formulating a preliminary claim as to why [her] student loans should be discharged and then try [to] figure out how you can prove that claim through each of the tests.”

In large part, this meant collecting a bunch of documents. We’ll cover what kind of documents you should make sure you have handy in the guide. For now, suffice it to say that this Upsolver took the same ‘overprepare for everything’ approach to this as she did to learning the lingo. 

In another article, we’ll share some of her impressions when it comes to actually putting together the complaint, the “little things” that complicated it unnecessarily (pleading paper, what do you mean “pleading paper?!”) and where she is now in the process. In so doing, we hope to give all Upsolvers a glimpse in what it’s like to sue the Department of Education to get your student loans discharged. 

So, stay tuned ...

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Written By:

The Upsolve Team

Upsolve is fortunate to have a remarkable team of bankruptcy attorneys, as well as finance and consumer rights professionals, as contributing writers to help us keep our content up to date, informative, and helpful to everyone.

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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.