Maryland residents who are struggling to make ends meet due to overwhelming student loan debt currently have few options, but their situations could soon change if a bill introduced recently in both the House of Representatives and U.S. Senate garners enough support to pass. The bicameral bill, which has been named the Student Borrower Bankruptcy Relief Act of 2019, would change the Bankruptcy Code by eliminating the provision that makes student loans non-dischargeable.

The bill faces an uphill battle and will need bipartisan support as it is opposed by trade groups such as the Consumer Bankers Association. A CBA representative said that the bill's passage would make matters worse for students and taxpayers because more student loans would be discharged and new loans would be more difficult to obtain and more expensive. However, the bill is not without supporters. The Center for Responsible Lending, the National Consumer Law Center, and Americans for Financial Reform have all come out in support of the legislation.

Many people know that concerns about student loan debt have been growing in the nation's capital for some time. The total amount owed on student loans is predicted to reach $2 trillion by 2022, and students who completed their degrees in 2018 entered the workforce burdened with an average of $33,310 in student loan debt.

The current Bankruptcy Code makes it extremely difficult for individuals with overwhelming student loan debt to obtain relief, but it does not make it impossible. Attorneys with experience in this area could explain how this debt may be discharged in bankruptcy if the petitioner can establish that continuing to make payments would cause undue hardship. Attorneys may also point out that pursuing debt relief could greatly ease financial stress even if student loans were left in place.

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