How can credit card debt be settled for less than owed?

I posted this because I am in massive credit card debt ($12,000) and don't have the means to pay it off. I racked up most of this debt while I had a steady, good-paying job. Then I quit my job because I got injured and decided to go back to school full-time. I am on time with payments, but my only income right now is from school loans and a little side-job on campus. It is breaking my bank to make the monthly payments and was wondering if there is a way to settle the account for less than what I owe? I have a friend who did this recently, but I don't recall why/how this was done. If you have any experience with this, please let me know! Other than this personal difficulty with debt, I have stellar credit.