Krieger v. Educ. Credit Mgmt. Corp., No. 12-3592 (7th Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
Krieger, age 53, cannot pay her debts. She lives with her mother in a rural community; they have only monthly income from governmental programs. She is too poor to move and her car, more than 10 years old, needs repairs. She lacks Internet access. In her bankruptcy proceeding, Educational Credit moved to exempt her student loans from discharge; 11 U.S.C.523(a)(8) excludes educational loans “unless excepting such debt from discharge under this paragraph would impose an undue hardship on the debtor.” The district court reversed the bankruptcy court, noting that Krieger, although unable to pay even $1 per year, had not enrolled in a program that offered a 25-year payment schedule. The Seventh Circuit reversed, in favor of Krieger. “Undue hardship” requires showing that the debtor cannot maintain a minimal standard of living if forced to repay; that additional circumstances exist indicating that this situation is likely to persist for a significant portion of the repayment period; and that the debtor has made good faith efforts to repay. The court noted that Krieger incurred the debt to obtain paralegal training at a community college, has made about 200 applications in 10 years, and used a substantial part of her divorce settlement to pay off as much of the educational loan as possible.