RE: paying off student loans on credit cards and then doing a Ch 7 def. will not work. Neither will taking a HELOC on a home and then defaulting on the payments and discharging the note/mortgage in bankruptcy. They do a pretty careful "look back" on even simple Ch. 7s and will catch this stuff easily. (Just google it and you can find stories of people who tried and failed).
Then you're on the hook for fraud/abuse of the system.
It's a disaster, and will only get worse as more formerly "good" jobs for highly educated people are shipped overseas by the boatload. And you do have to admit that never before in history have people in their early/mid 20s been saddled with such toxic and astronomical debt, nor with so few jobs paying a sufficient wage to service said debt. Making the debt 100% non-dischargable is another wild card never before seen in history. A bad decision at a very young age can and will haunt these kids for the rest of their lives. Only since 2005 have private loans been non-dischargable, and notice how tuitions started rocketing into the stratosphere not long after that bill became law. The schools, of course, risk nothing. They get paid in full a few days after your name is on the loan paperwork.
I also gotta LOL at people counting on IBR and other programs. I think many of you are grossly underestimating how miserable life is with debt hanging over your head. To even be IBR eligible you have to meet criteria that pretty much doom you to a shitty, sub-poverty level lifestyle anyway. The question is why anyone would seek an education to "enjoy" a lower standard of living than someone with a GED? Do you really find law that fascinating? There are no "do-overs" in this business. A few shitty doc review gigs, maybe a stint or two in shitlaw, and in only a couple short years your resume is a huge 'red flag" that screams "LOSER."
Remember, a JD closes a lot more doors than it opens. It isn't a Swiss Army Knife, and lawyers aren't viewed as "MacGyvers" who can handle any corporate job by virtue of their "superior education" and "reasoning ability" and such. In this market HR departments want cookie cutter resumes with substantial and recent experience in specific business areas, not washout JD also-rans who can "synthesize appellate caselaw."
Hell, a JD actually makes it HARDER to get a lot of jobs. For example. I applied for a job as a high school English teacher in an impoverished NJ district and got an interview last year. But in NJ teachers are paid union scale based solely on their level of education. A JD counts as "Masters Plus 45 Credits" under the NJ union scale, so they'd have to pay me 8 K more than a BA holder. (55 K vs 47 K)
And my raises would be substantially more as well down the road. So I got dinged because the school districts are broke and want cheaper labor: the Principal told me he felt terrible and really wanted to offer me the job, but the good ole' JD screwed me over- the Superintendent of the district was pushing them to cut costs and not hire Masters/JD holders (and no, you can't just agree to work for less- this is a lockstep unionized position). I actually went home and tore my JD out of the frame and tossed it into the garbage not long afterwards. I did use the frame for a nice picture my fiancee' painted for me though.
Understanding how embarrassing it is to be a "failed" attorney is a hard thing to do. No one goes to law school expecting to end up in 35 K a year shitlaw, or working in a "glass gulag" cubicle at Discover Ready for $29 an hour sans health benefits, or worst yet being totally unemployed after months of sending out resumes. Yet it does happen, and happens very frequently nowadays. Non-lawyer friends and family all chuckle and say "wow, all that schoolin' really paid off" and things like that, all the teasing and other degrading shit you endure which only makes you feel worse. Watching others buy their first home, start families, and build a future while you drift from one dead-end temp gig or shitlaw office to the next, trying to pay loans, health ins. bar dues, CLE fees, etc.
I frequent a lot of ex-pat mssg boards (since I'm soon joining their ranks), and I'm amazed at how many kids are overseas solely to escape the student loan debt noose. Yes, you don't get paid a huge amount of $$$ to teach in Turkey, but you can have a decent little apartment, eat out a few nights a week/have drinks, travel a bit on your time off, etc. All things that I cannot and will not be able to do in the US. Plus my fiancee has already lived there and had friends and connections which could actually help me rebuild my life down the road. WTF I am going to do here in the US? Work in a glass box at Discover-Ready for $29 an hour until even the scraps of these shitjobs are outsourced to India, with Aunt Sallie Mae garnishing 30% or more of my paycheck? I'd rather just eat a gun now than face that kind of "life," if that's what you want to call it.
And just looking around the US, you can't help but see not a nation but an empire, an empire undergoing a terminal phase of decline. We jail more people than any country on Earth, have pointless wars raging in 3 theatres now (hello Libya), high & systemic unemployment, housing values that know no bottom, wages actually lower in adj. dollars than in 1973, crumbling roads and bridges, terrible public schools, wholesale outsourcing of jobs, and a political class composed of shysters and morons who are 100% owned by the Wall St "boyz" and act only to further their interests. I often tell people "the question isn't why I'm leaving, it's why the fuck you're STAYING?"