Student loans are difficult, though not technically impossible, to discharge through bankruptcy. The only way to declare bankruptcy on student loans is to file an adversary proceeding, which would ask the court to see that paying on your student loans would cause you something called “undue hardship.”
Undue hardship is determined by factors such as the inability to have a “minimal standard of living” while paying the loans, proof that this situation of undue hardship will endure for a large portion of the repayment period, and an honest effort to have made payments on the loans up until this point.
As for your credit report, a bankruptcy of any kind will live on your credit report for several years. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which can potentially remove all of your unsecured debt, will stay on your credit report for 10 years. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which might only remove a portion of your debt, stays on your report for seven years.
Bankruptcy of any kind will adversely affect your credit for a period of time, but it’s important to consider the fact that not paying on your accounts will do the same. If you’re struggling to the point at which bankruptcy might be your only option, a clean slate might be more valuable in the long run than worrying about the damage bankruptcy can do to your credit score.