SCOTUS Confirms Chapter 13 Can Include Student Loan


On March 23, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 9 – 0 opinion in United Student Aid Funds, v. Espinosa (08-1134) in which the Court affirmed the 9th Circuit’s holding that a chapter 13 debtor can obtain a discharge of a student loan by including it in a chapter 13 plan, if the creditor fails to object after notice and opportunity to do so, and the BK court enters an order confirming the chapter 13 plan. In bankruptcy, a student loan is not discharged unless the bankruptcy court makes a determination that excepting the student loan would be an undue hardship on the debtor. Under Bankruptcy Rules, the court is required to make such a determination in an adversary proceeding — a lawsuit within the bankruptcy case. In Espinosa, the debtor did not bring an adversary proceeding. Rather, the debtor put in his plan that only the principal amount of the loan would be paid through the plan, but that accrued interest would be discharged. The student loan lender did receive a copy of the plan, and even filed a Proof of Claim. But, the lender did not object to confirmation.

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