Secured creditors (those creditors who have collateral for their loans, such as a car or boat) will want you to reaffirm the loan. When you reaffirm the loan, you re-obligate yourself to all of the loan terms just as if you were getting a new loan from the creditor. Although this may sound harmless, it has serious consequences. If you reaffirm and then later default on the loan, you are personally liable to pay the balance and you will have no protection on that debt from the bankruptcy. One of the major changes made to bankruptcy law in 2005 is that a creditor can repossess the collateral if you do not reaffirm. This change does not apply to real estate debt. Your reaffirmation agreement is subject to court approval in some circumstances. If your income is less than your monthly expenses, you may be required to participate in a telephone hearing with the court where you will be required to explain to a bankruptcy judge why the reaffirmation is in your best interest and how you intend to make the payment. More often than not, when you file bankruptcy, you owe more on the collateral securing the loan than it is worth. If your loan is more than 2 1/2 years old, under a process called REDEMPTION, bankruptcy law allows you to reduce the amount owing on the debt to the value of the collateral if you can pay it all at once. Many debtors can find a source of family financing or, perhaps, borrow from a 401K account, etc. and come up with the full value. There is also a company on the internet that specializes in redemption funding for cars. Talk with OREGON FRESH START about this for more information. WOULDN'T IT BE BETTER TO SETTLE MY DEBTS THROUGH A DEBT CONSOLIDATION PLAN? Although there may be a few reputable credit counseling services out there, most will not and cannot give you what they promise. Usually, they promise they can settle your debts for 50 cents on the dollar and that when you get done, you will have great credit. The facts are that (1) most people do not complete the "plans" because they usually do not work, and if you do complete the plan, (2) your credit is trashed. Creditors report to credit bureaus exactly what happened. If you get hooked on a 50% plan, your credit report will show that you did not pay all of the debt and that the unpaid balance was charged off. Most creditors do not waive interest or late fees. In addition, most credit counseling programs will charge you a fee (a portion of each payment) and they often do not send your money to the creditors for several months. This gives them an interest-free loan working with your money. Most debtors would be better off filing a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy which can force the creditors to accept your terms of repayment. In addition, and this is a big one, the amount that was charged off by the creditor will likely be reported to the IRS with a 1099 tax form and you will be required to pay income taxes on the charged-off amount which will be a very unpleasant surprise for you when you file your tax returns for that year. CAN STUDENT LOANS BE DISCHARGED? Yes, but it is not easy. It will also, probably, be expensive. Once upon a time, federally guaranteed student loans were dischargeable if the loan was more than 7 years old. In 1998, the federal government changed all that. Now, federally guaranteed student loans cannot be discharged unless you can prove that being required to repay the loan will cause an undue hardship - not just a hardship, but an "undue" hardship. To have an opportunity to prove your case, you will be required to sue the federal government in bankruptcy court through an adversary proceeding. You will be required to prove all of the following: repayment of the loan would prevent you from maintaining a minimal standard of living your financial circumstances are not likely to change in the foreseeable future you made a good faith effort to repay the loan before you became unable to pay Frequently, the federal government will try to show that you could get a reduced payment plan by going through a consolidation program that will stretch out your payments for 20 years or more based upon an "ability to pay." In short, it is possible to discharge a student loan, but the government has made it very difficult. Also, remember that the government has a raft of lawyers to defend the federal government in the lawsuit who are paid for by your taxes. On the other hand, you will be required to pay for your attorney.