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Student Defense has aggressively advocated for student borrowers who find themselves facing Department opposition to their student debt bankruptcy proceedings. In June 2021, Student Defense published The Missing Billion, which examined the disparate treatment individual borrowers faced from the Department in bankruptcy court compared to the agency’s lax enforcement against for-profit colleges and executives with outstanding liabilities owed to the government.  

In July 2021, Cardozo School of Law Professor Pamela Foohey co-published a legal essay with Student Defense President & Cofounder Aaron Ament and Student Defense Vice President & Chief Counsel Dan Zibel in the Minnesota Law Review that examined administrative reforms related to student debt bankruptcy discharges. And in 2022, Student Defense joined a group of student and consumer advocacy organizations calling for a moratorium on new Department-led opposition of student loan bankruptcy opposition until new guidance was issued. 

The U.S. Department of Education issued updated policy guidance in November 2022 surrounding the Department’s approach towards student borrowers seeking to have their student loans discharged in bankruptcy court. The changes follow years of advocacy by Student Defense and other experts, advocates, and members of Congress. According to the Guidance, the Department of Justice recommends discharging the student loan if the following conditions are met: “(1) the debtor presently lacks an ability to repay the loan; (2) the debtor’s inability to pay the loan is likely to persist in the future; and (3) the debtor has acted in good faith in the past in attempting to repay the loan.” See Guidance for Department Attorneys Regarding Student Loan Bankruptcy Litigation, available at

FOIA Requests


Bankruptcy Settlements - June 5, 2023

Seeking: All settlements or other final agreements reached with any student loan borrower who has filed an “adversary” complaint against the Department in bankruptcy.


On July 28, 2023, the Department of Education provided a final response to this request. The responsive document is available here


Bankruptcy Settlements - July 20, 2021 

Seeking: All settlements or other final agreements reached with any student loan borrower who has filed an “adversary” complaint against the Department in bankruptcy. 


The Department initially failed to produce any documents responsive to this request, as required by law. After Student Defense sued the Department in federal court, the Department provided two sets of responsive documents. Those documents are available below:

Response 1

Response 2