More Americans filed for bankruptcy in the first half of 2008 compared to the first half of 2007.

The American Bankruptcy Institute announced that filings increased 30 percent during that time.

In June alone, more than 82,700 people filed for bankruptcy. Last year at the same time, 68,559 people filed. That’s more than 20 percent higher.

Bankruptcy isn’t a quick fix however. When you file bankruptcy you cannot discharge student loans. They will follow you indefinitely. And with the last bankruptcy act revision in 2005, the process became more difficult overall. If you’re thinking about filing for bankruptcy read all you can about it ahead of time and contact an attorney.

In June, 32.9 percent of consumer cases filed were Chapter 13, which may allow the debtor to keep his or her home after working out a payment plan with creditors.

The other common type of consumer bankruptcy is Chapter 7, where after creditors are paid off with available assets, the debtor gets a fresh start.

But no matter what, filing for bankruptcy damages your credit score. The filing stays on your credit report for many years.

It’s not the stigma it once was however. During the 2007 aldermanic election in Chicago several of the candidates had previously filed for bankruptcy and they went on to hold public office. During that election cycle, I researched the candidates in the bankruptcy court’s electronic files.

July 2, 2008.