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Bankruptcy Credit Counseling & Financial Management Courses

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In a Nutshell

Everyone has to complete a pre-bankruptcy credit counseling course before and a pre-discharge debtor education course after filing their bankruptcy case. The courses are offered by nonprofit organizations that are pre-approved for each state by the U.S. Trustee (or the bankruptcy administrator).

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer.  
Updated October 3, 2020

So you’ve decided you need to file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. You’ll need to complete the bankruptcy forms. But that’s only part of the process for getting a fresh start.

You’ll also need to take two educational courses. One before and one after filing bankruptcy. This is required by the Bankruptcy Code

There is usually a small cost for this counseling service, but bankruptcy law requires that anyone who can't afford to pay the cost can apply for a fee waiver

Course 1: The Pre-Filing Credit Counseling Course 

Everyone filing bankruptcy has to complete a pre-bankruptcy credit counseling course through one of the approved credit counseling agencies. The U.S. Trustee Program determines the approved providers for each judicial district in all but two states. 

Alabama and North Carolina don't have a U.S. Trustee. There, the bankruptcy administrator decides which nonprofit organizations may provide credit counseling to filers. 

The credit counseling requirements exist to make sure that everyone filing bankruptcy knows about all available debt relief options. During the credit counseling session, you'll speak with a credit counselor about your financial situation. 

Once done, they may recommend that you consider a repayment plan but oftentimes they'll simply provide you with the bankruptcy certificate to submit to the court along with your bankruptcy forms. 

Course 2: The Pre-Discharge Debtor Education Course

Before the bankruptcy court will grant your discharge, you have to complete a so-called "debtor education course." Again, it’s important to take this course from an approved provider. This counseling session will focus on things like:

  • personal financial management

  • budgeting

  • how interest rates work

  • rebuilding your credit report

  • using credit cards 

When done, you'll receive a certificate of completion that you have to submit to the bankruptcy court. Filers who forget to complete this financial education course aren't eligible to have their debts eliminated. Their bankruptcy case is closed by the bankruptcy court before the discharge order is entered.  

How to Find Approved Providers 

You can find a list of nonprofits approved to offer credit counseling and debtor education courses in your state on the website of the U.S. Trustee Program (or the bankruptcy administrator's website if you're in Alabama or North Carolina). Make sure you're looking at a .gov website when searching, so you know you can trust the referral. 

Many Upsolve users go through the DebtorCC to complete their credit counseling and debtor education courses, but you can choose any one of the approved nonprofits. If you’re in a bigger state, make sure that the company you choose is approved for the specific judicial district you’re in. 

The United States Trustee Program’s list of approved nonprofits for the pre-filing credit counseling course is available here. Their list of approved debtor education course providers can be found here

Let’s Summarize…

Everyone has to complete a pre-bankruptcy credit counseling course before and a pre-discharge debtor education course after filing their bankruptcy case. You have 6 months to take the pre-filing course. Once your forms are filed with the bankruptcy court, you’ll want to get the second course done within 60 days of your meeting of creditors (or before the meeting, if you want). The courses are offered by nonprofit organizations that are pre-approved by the U.S. Trustee (or the bankruptcy administrator). 

Written By:

Attorney Andrea Wimmer


Andrea practiced exclusively as a bankruptcy attorney in consumer Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 cases for more than 10 years before joining Upsolve, first as a contributing writer and editor and ultimately joining the team as Managing Editor. While in private practice, Andrea handled... read more about Attorney Andrea Wimmer

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