You have a couple options on this one, and each of them is going to generally involve an attorney's help. At the least, an attorney can help you navigate the complexities of student loans as they are some of the most collectible forms of debt. Depending on whether you qualify for bankruptcy, that could also be a viable option. Not to discharge the student loan debt, but at least to hold them off and allow you to pay them some amount during the bankruptcy which chips away at the balance but doesn't garnish your paycheck.
The exemptions may be able to protect you from a certain amount of garnishment but possibly not the garnishment completely (i.e. reduce the amount being garnished). However, you may get a better result with representation. You could also consult with a bankruptcy attorney in your area. Although student loans are not dischargeable (in most circumstances, including most likely your case), you may be able to delay them or even get on a payment plan (in a 13). I would try meeting with an attorney to discuss your situation. You can try your local legal aid society, or the orange county bar association for a referral. You can also try the "find an attorney" feature on this site. Good Luck!
The asking of and answering general questions does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Please consult with an actual attorney in your local area before deciding on a course of action.
You indicate "opinions seem to differ." They should as you have not provided sufficient facts. Was this a Federal Loan or a debt that arose as a result of the ROTC scholarship being withdrawn? Who is it owed to, a school, university. the Fed. Dept. of Education or perhaps a state agency or private lender? The answers to these questions will govern whether the state or federal exemptions (or amount limitations apply). You should also be aware that defaulted federal loans can result in wage garnishments without legal process but you are entitled to a hearing on a number of issues if that happens. I would suggest you contact someone that is knowledgeable in the area of student loans and debt. This may or may not be someone with bankruptcy experience. Good luck.