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Higher Education Briefing – Mateus Baptista

Bankruptcy Discharge: A Second Chance

April 20, 2016
Cannon House Office Building – Room 122
1:30 pm – 2:45 pm
Moderated by CHCI-McDonald's Higher Education Graduate Fellow Mateus Baptista
Click here to download your copy of the white paper

Student loan debt has reached astronomical numbers, currently an estimated $1.2 trillion dollars, second only to mortgage debt. The high cost of a college education necessitates student loans, often several loans to finance a basic degree. The resulting debt not only prevents students from entering the middle-class, but also undermines economic growth for the nation as a whole. As a result, it is imperative to address the student debt crisis and help struggling borrowers out of financial distress.

To this end, an amendment to the 1965 Higher Education Act is needed to allow for students to discharge federal and private loans in bankruptcy. Students who are not allowed to file for bankruptcy end up defaulting on their debt, creating a series of problems such as damaging their credit score and impeding future loan borrowing. Although bankruptcy has serious repercussions, it does allow creditors to regain their financial standing after years of careful monitoring, and provides relief albeit not easily and quickly. Student default can have the most pernicious effects not only for students, but also for institutions of higher education.

The briefing will provide an overview of the student loan crisis along with the benefits and challenges of loan discharge in bankruptcy courts.


Rachel Fishman - Senior Policy Analyst, New America Foundation
Ben Miller, Senior Director, Post Secondary Education, Center for American Progress
Michael Pierce - Deputy Assistant Director (Acting), Senior Advisor to the Student Loan Ombudsman at Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
Jennifer Wang - D.C. Office Director, The Institute for College Access and Success

The 2016 CHCI Capitol Hill Policy Briefing Series is the culmination of CHCI’s premier, nine-month Graduate Fellowship Program.