In most cases, student loans cannot be discharged in bankruptcy. A bankruptcy judge can discharge them in extreme hardship situations, but this is rare and requires additional court filings. Private student loans can sometimes be discharged, but generally federally backed student loans are not dischargable (including Stafford, PLUS, Perkins, FFEL, and many others). You can also typically not negotiate down the balances, and student loans typically cannot be enrolled into a debt settlement type of program. You can contact your student loan servicer and ask about hardship programs and payment deferral.