Get Out of Debt Guy

I'm a Pilot. Can My Student Loans Be Discharged in Bankruptcy?

Posted April 15

Question:

Dear Steve,

I am a pilot who currently has several private student loans that are making me unable to own a home or even live on my own. I was a victim of scam in which they said my loans would be discharged in court meanwhile I was supposed to pay a very large fee. Upon some investigation I discovered it may be possible to have my loans discharged in court as they are very close to the examples mentioned. I attended Baker College which its self is accredited, but the flight school they contracted to do the flight training was not.

Given that my loan was issued to Baker College but they final destination for the money was to a third party flight school that was not accredited, can my private student loans be discharged? Its worth noting that the actual program it’s self was not accredited.

Nicholas

Answer:

Dear Nicholas,

As a pilot myself, I was thrilled to get your question.

The short answer is your private student loans for your flight school may not be protected and could be discharged in a consumer bankruptcy.

I think you’ve already read my article These Private Student Loans Can Be Easily Discharged in Bankruptcy. That article talks about this issue.

The Department of Education has an online tool to initially check accreditation. Visit The Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs. A search there did find a number of Baker College listings but that doesn’t mean anything at this point.

Ultimately this is a legally technical situation that requires a bankruptcy lawyer who is licensed in your state to evaluate your situation. My article will help them to understand the underlying issues but they need to look at your specific situation.

It seems to me the heart of the matter will be what was an “eligible education institution” and what part of the money was used for a “qualified higher education expense.”

At this point I don’t think there is enough information to assume the loans, in part or in full, could not be discharged.

Since most bankruptcy attorneys offer free consultations I’d suggest finding a few who are licensed in your state and sit down with them. Just because one says the loans are not dischargeable, it is worth getting a second or third opinion. Not every bankruptcy attorney is up to speed on these issues yet.

I’d encourage you to keep up the hunt for some definitive answers. You may just be on to something here.

This article by Steve Rhode first appeared on Get Out of Debt Guy.

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About this Blog:

Steve Rhode has had careers in opthalmology, real estate and as the head of a nonprofit debt counseling firm. On his blog, he offers hard-won, free advice about getting out of debt, consolidation and making the right choices as you manage your money.