The Debtor is a healthy, well-educated single person in her fifties living in Daytona Beach, Florida. She attended Ohio Northern University in the 1980s and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. A few years later, the Debtor studied at a massage therapy school and ran a small business as a licensed massage therapist. In 2007, the Debtor attended the Florida College of Integrative Medicine (“FCIM”) and within three years, obtained both a Master’s Degree and a Doctorate in Oriental Medicine. While attending FCIM, the Debtor borrowed funds from the Defendant in excess of $100, 000 (the “Student Loans”). The Debtor used the Student Loans to pay for tuition and living expenses and to study in China at the TCM University of Anhui.
The Debtor has struggled to find lucrative employment in oriental medicine after earning her degrees from FCIM. From 2010 through 2014, the Debtor’s adjusted gross income fluctuated between $14, 818 and $23, 688. During this time, the Defendant granted the Debtor several hardship or administrative forbearances from repaying the Student Loans. The Debtor attempted to obtain an income based repayment plan from the Defendant, but the new repayment plan never came to fruition. The Debtor has not made any payments on the Student Loans.
On July 29, 2014, the Debtor filed a voluntary petition for relief under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code. The Debtor listed unsecured debts totaling approximately $178, 000 in her bankruptcy schedules, and the Student Loan debt is over 75% of the amount listed. The Debtor then filed this adversary proceeding attempting to discharge the Student Loans pursuant to Section 523(a)(8) of the Bankruptcy Code.
Currently, the Debtor is self-employed as an acupuncturist and massage therapist. She works regular business hours as an acupuncturist only three days a week and some hours intermittently two days a week as a massage therapist. The Debtor admits that she is “ready, willing and able to work, with no known medical problems.” The Debtor has not sought employment outside of the field of oriental medicine. The Debtor estimates that her net monthly income is $1, 500.
The Debtor resides in a home owned by her father with her adult son and two grandchildren, whom she started supporting recently. The Debtor pays rent ranging from $500 to $1, 000 per month, when her income allows. Although the Student Loans presently require a monthly payment of $1, 646.66, the Debtor qualifies for three different income driven repayment plans provided by the Defendant for the Student Loans (collectively the “Repayment Plans”). The Repayment Plans cancel the Student Loans debt after a maximum repayment period of 25 years. Based on the Debtor’s present income and family size, the Defendant estimates that the Debtor’s monthly payments could be as low as $49 under the Repayment Plans. All other living expenses of the Debtor range from $635 to $1, 025 per month. Examples of some expenses or purchases made by the Debtor include: $80 a month for clothing, $100 a month for lawn and garden work, $80 for a civil war reenactment ticket, $304.94 for a metal detector, and $385 for produce growing equipment. The Debtor anticipates that her lawn and garden expense will decrease.