About 40% of people who file for bankruptcy DO get their student loan debt reduced or eliminated. (But few actually do file for bankruptcy.) What you need to do is to prove that paying the loans would cause undue hardship to you and any dependents, and your financial situation is unlikely to improve. An example would be a single mother of four, with a crappy job, who would become homeless if she had to make the loan payments. This applies to both federal and private loans.