Certainty of Hopelessness

Senior editor Christopher Glazek and Sean Monahan presented their pamphlet “Certainty of Hopelessness: A Primer on Discharging Student Debt” at the LA Art Book Fair last week, in collaboration with Paper Chase Press. We’ve shared the introduction and a link to download the book below. Chris writes that it’s “deliberately shameless, and encourages debtors to ‘think strategically’ — and often, to lie — by adopting the kind of adversarial approach to their own financial situation that we often reserve for the rich and powerful.”

Discharging student debt is a black-box dilemma. While bankruptcy protocols are always complex, student debt is loaded with its own special brand of illegibility. Debtors are misled by the media into thinking that discharging student loans is impossible and shamed into treating the mere notion of relief as a form of extravagant welfare-queenism.

Our original intention was not to create a satire, but rather to map the possibilities for broke postgrads interested in taking a more adversarial approach to dealing with their debt. Guides like Strike Debt’s Debt Resistors Operations Manual help combat the vilification of debtors and address pragmatic concerns about keeping loans out of default. For hundreds of thousands of ex-students, though, default is inevitable and discharge should be the goal.

Bankruptcy filers have the option of calling for a special separate hearing, called an “adversary proceeding,” during which a bankruptcy judge determines whether a student loan can be considered in a broader bankruptcy claim. To clear the legal hurdle, debtors must not only demonstrate that they are currently unable to pay—they must also demonstrate that their future life prospects are characterized by a “certainty of hopelessness.”

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has isolated twelve criteria for determining if individuals qualify as legally “hopeless.” The following pamphlet is a brainstorm: it considers what steps a debtor might take in order to persuasively claim the mantle of hopelessness. Rather than examine softcore options, we explore the potential of self-inflicted tragedy.

The following is a user’s manual that addresses each of the Ninth Circuit’s criteria for evaluating claims of hopelessness or undue hardship. Its functionality is proportional to any given reader’s desperation.

To read the full pamphlet, click here.

If you like this article, please subscribe or donate to support n+1.

Related Articles

Issue 5 Decivilizing Process

The work machine is also a porn machine; the porn machine is also a work machine. Work enters everything.

August 19, 2011

Each house had a little front yard and bigger backyard, and shared a common green on every other block.

September 18, 2013
On Marshall Berman
Issue 35 Savior Complex
On Design Thinking

More by this Author

September 21, 2011
On Ryan Trecartin
October 28, 2011

If I’m trying to work on something, I try to be reading the things that are relevant to that book.

February 14, 2011

As early as 2003, Williamsburg’s Hasidic population had protested against a wave of so-called “yuppies.”

November 1, 2011

Tutor! Donate sperm. There are ways to monetize your intelligence that doesn’t do damage to your craft.