When you hear the two words, “student loan,” do you have an emotional reaction?

Is it panic about how difficult it is to make your huge payment each month? Is it anger about your inability to refinance a loan with a high rate that feels predatory? Is it a sense of hopelessness about ever being able to pay off your loans, even if you have a good job?

If you are struggling with the burden of student loans, you are not alone — there are literally millions of others in the same situation right now. You may have questions about whether bankruptcy can help bring relief.

The good news and bad news

The bad news is that bankruptcy probably can’t help discharge your student loans. Unless you are elderly, disabled or in another situation that would prevent lenders from being able to collect from you in the long term, your creditors can usually keep you on the hook for what you owe. Maybe the law will change in this regard, but don’t count on it.

The good news is that if you have other significant debts, bankruptcy may be an effective vehicle through which your student loans may prove to be manageable — and by which your financial situation could improve dramatically. Many people wouldn’t struggle with their student loans if they weren’t under stress from large unsecured debts (from things like credit card balances, medical bills and personal loans) and secured debts (like huge car loans and big mortgages they can’t afford any more).

What you can do to find a solution now

Owing money can be excruciatingly painful for you and your family. Many people find themselves in debt after a divorce, a job loss, an illness, a family situation or another major setback. Plus, countless Americans of all ages attended undergraduate, graduate, professional or vocational schools that turned out to be unbelievably expensive. Student loan debt is a real problem, and everyone’s combination of debts is different.

If you can’t get out from under your debt despite your best efforts, it is important to find a solution, which could include a strategic bankruptcy filing. An experienced bankruptcy attorney can sit down with you, evaluate your debts (including your school loans) and help you understand what options you have. In most cases, the consultation is free.