2020 Best Invention

How Upsolve Works

In a Nutshell

Upsolve is a nonprofit that helps you file bankruptcy on your own, using a free online tool to generate your bankruptcy forms and clear your debt. Think TurboTax for bankruptcy. 

Here's how it works!

The bankruptcy system empowers you to file on your own when you can’t afford a lawyer, known as filing “pro se.” Upsolve is here for you through our free tool, attorney-written articles, and community support. 

How Upsolve Works

2 Minute Video

(1) Take screener (2 mins) 

Take our screener to determine if you qualify for our free tool to generate your forms. If we can't help, you can get a free evaluation from a private attorney or may qualify for legal aid assistance in your area.

(2) Join the Upsolve Community (optional) 

Meet Upsolve users from your state and across the country by joining the Upsolve User Group on Facebook. You can learn more about the experience of filing on your own from actual Upsolve users who are actively going through the process right now. You can also speak with users who have already received their discharge to learn more about why they filed and how the process was for them.

(3) Complete questionnaire and upload documents (90 mins)

Answer questions about what you make, spend, own, and owe. Upsolve pulls your credit report for you to save you time. This information populates your bankruptcy forms. If you were employed, you’ll also upload your last 60 days of paystubs. You can update your information any time before filing.

If you were required to file tax returns from the past two years, upload them to your account. If you did not file returns due to receiving Social Security or not having earned income, you can skip this step. 

(4) Take online credit counseling course (60 mins)

The bankruptcy court requires everyone to complete a credit counseling course before filing. This course is offered by another nonprofit that you can access directly through Upsolve. It costs $14.95, unless you qualify for a fee waiver.

The course consists of answering questions and a brief call or online chat with a credit counselor. You can also take it through any other approved provider and upload your certificate to your account. 

(5) Pick a filing target date (5 mins)

Come back to my.upsolve.org after finishing the course and choose a filing date, which tells us when you plan to file your forms. You can file your forms before or shortly after this date. The court knows nothing about your filing date. Your filing date just helps you make a plan to file. You do not need to make an appointment to file your forms at the court. 

(6) Review, update, and generate your forms (30 mins) 

After quality control for consistency and completeness, you can generate your forms. You’ll receive an email and text notification when your forms are ready. Once downloaded, you can review your forms and make final changes using the case editor before you print and sign them.  

(7) File your forms 

You will either need to hand-deliver, mail, or electronically deliver the forms to the court. You’ll need to bring your ID and provide a filing fee, fee waiver application, or installment payment application. It’s always a good idea to deliver the forms in person if you can, but if you’re way too far, you can mail them if you include a copy of your ID.

See filing instructions.

You should always call the Clerk’s Office ahead of time to find out specific instructions. Due to COVID-19, some courts are allowing you to submit the forms online.

🎉 When done, remember to congratulate yourself on filing! It's the hardest part! Hooray 🎉

(8) Receive important case info from court and mail docs to trustee (15 mins)

A week after you file, you’ll receive “Form 309A,” which will tell you important information about your case. This includes the name of your “trustee,” the official who handles your case and the date of your “341 meeting,” which is where you’ll meet with your trustee. Due to COVID-19 many courts are holding 341 meetings by video conference or telephone, which you’ll see on Form 309A. 

Your trustee will require you to provide their office with certain documents before your 341 meeting. At a minimum, you’ll need to provide two years of tax returns and 60 days of pay stubs, if you received income. 

(9) Take post-filing course (60 mins)

The bankruptcy court requires you to take a second online course, called a “Personal Financial Management,” after you file. This course is a lot like the credit counseling course, and it costs $9.95. You may qualify for a fee waiver.

When you’re done, you must save your certificate, print it, and file it with the court. If you take the post-filing course through the link Upsolve provides, the course provider will file your certificate for you electronically. You can confirm it was filed by checking your court notices in your my.upsolve account. 

(10) Attend meeting with your trustee (5 mins)

This meeting, also known as the “341 Meeting of the Creditors,” is between you and the trustee who handles your case. They’ll ask you questions about your forms. It usually lasts about 5 minutes. We have a video to prepare you.

Bring your photo ID and social security card. Your trustee may tell you to make changes to your forms and come back at another date, in which case you should do exactly what they tell you.  If you need to update your account, contact Upsolve.

Get your debt discharged!  

You’ll receive official notice of your debts being erased about two months after your 341 meeting. 🎉 Congratulations! 🎉 Upsolve provides you with resources on how to rebuild your credit after bankruptcy.  

The Founding Story

The idea for Upsolve came out of the Access to Justice Lab at Harvard Law School. One of our co-founders, Rohan Pavuluri, was working as a research assistant, testing paper packets that explained different parts of the law to low-income Boston residents. One of the packets was for bankruptcy. After seeing the massive positive impact bankruptcy could have on someone’s life, Rohan had an idea. He set out to build a TurboTax-like tool that would help people across all of America file bankruptcy on their own for free. 

Rohan soon met Jonathan Petts who had worked for 10 years in the bankruptcy world, getting a Masters degree in bankruptcy law, clerking for two bankruptcy judges, and working at two Big Law firms in NYC. In his free time, Jonathan did a lot of pro bono bankruptcy cases and saw how much impact a technology tool could have in bankruptcy. With seed funding from Harvard University, the Robin Hood Foundation, and the federal government through the Legal Services Corporation, Upsolve was born. 

Upsolve launched nationally in the summer of 2018 and has become the largest nonprofit in America for bankruptcy, with thousands of cases filed and over 2 million website visitors. We’ve built a team of lawyers, engineers, and former bankruptcy judges. We’ve also become a leader in the fight for a more accessible, just legal system.

“Upsolve plays a critical role in making sure that people who can't afford a bankruptcy lawyer are still able to access the bankruptcy system. It's an important part in promoting equal rights under the law.”

- Ed Boltz, Former President of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys 

"The income tax system is extremely, extremely complex. Much more complex than the bankruptcy code. But yet we have TurboTax...I don't understand why we can't do something similar to that for simple Chapter 7 bankruptcies."

- Judge Henry Callaway, Chief U.S. Bankruptcy Judge for the Southern District of Alabama and co-author of “Too Broke for a Fresh Start” with Upsolve co-founder Jonathan Petts

Select Press

Upsolve named as one of TIME’S 100 Best Inventions of 2020 (TIME)

Founder of start-up helping poor erase debt for free: Legal fees block ‘civil right’ (Chicago Sun-Times) 

The 10 most innovative not-for-profit organizations of 2020 (Fast Company)

Upsolve Moves Upward: Under 30 Cofounder's Bankruptcy Service Is Just One Click Away (Forbes) 

The 2018 Good Tech Awards (New York Times)


Upsolve is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that started in 2016. Our mission is to help low-income families who cannot afford lawyers file bankruptcy for free, using an online web app. Our team includes lawyers, engineers, and judges. We have world-class funders that include the U.S. government, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, and leading foundations. It's one of the greatest civil rights injustices of our time that low-income families can't access their basic rights when they can't afford to pay for help. Combining direct services and advocacy, we're fighting this injustice.

To learn more, read why we started Upsolve in 2016, our reviews from past users, and our press coverage from places like the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.