The Debtor Education Course Requirement in Bankruptcy

Confused about the two courses bankruptcy filers must take? This article will help.

When you file for bankruptcy, you'll complete two courses—a credit counseling course and a debtor education course. If you're unsure which to take or how to find approved providers, these basics will help:

  • You'll take the credit counseling course before bankruptcy.
  • You'll take the debtor education course after filing your case.
  • You'll find approved course providers on the US Trustee Program website.
  • You'll file your completion certificates with the bankruptcy court.

And congratulations—filing the debtor education completion certificate is often the last step you'll take before your bankruptcy case is over.

Which Bankruptcy Course Is the Debtor Education Course?

It's the second course. You must complete it before receiving your debt discharge (the order that erases qualifying debt) unless you're exempt from taking the debtor education course.

The practical financial management strategies taught in the class will help you avoid another bankruptcy filing. The first course—the credit counseling course taken before filing for bankruptcy—evaluates whether options other than bankruptcy are available to you.

When Do I Have to Complete the Debtor Education Requirement?

Chapter 7 filers have 60 days after the 341 meeting of creditors to file the certificate. Chapter 13 filers must file the completion certificate before making the last Chapter 13 repayment plan payment.

Keep in mind that missing the filing deadline is expensive. If the court closes your bankruptcy, you won't be able to file the certificate without repaying the filing fee to reopen your case.

How Much Does the Debtor Education Course Cost?

If your household income is below 150% of the poverty line, you'll be eligible for a fee waiver. Otherwise, $50 or less is reasonable.

Where Can I Find a Course Approved by the Bankruptcy Court?

Check with the provider you used for your credit counseling course. Otherwise, follow these step-by-step instructions for finding an approved debtor education course:

  1. Find your bankruptcy case number and judicial district. You'll need both to schedule a class. They'll be on your paperwork. Or use the Federal Court Finder to verify your bankruptcy court's judicial district.
  2. Go to the US Trustee's website. Select "Credit Counseling & Debtor Education" from the left navbar on the US Trustee Program homepage.
  3. Choose the course type. Select "List of Approved Credit Counseling Agencies" if you haven't filed yet. Choose "List of Approved Debtor Education Providers" if you've filed and need the second course.
  4. Choose your state. Before moving to the next screen, be prepared. If you don't have the court's judicial district name, you can find it by clicking on the link under "Approved Agencies by State."
  5. Select the judicial district and language. Click the boxes indicating your court's judicial district and your preferred language.
  6. Scroll down to the "Approved Agencies" listing. Each course indicates whether it's available online or by phone. You'll also find contact numbers and web addresses.
  7. Ask if the provider will file your certificate for you. Downloading the certificate and filing it with the court can be challenging. A provider who will do it for you will make your life easier.

Practical Tip. The provider will ask for your bankruptcy case number. If you don't need it when you sign up, you're probably taking the first course—the credit counseling course.

Filing the Debtor Education Certificate With the Bankruptcy Court

You filed the first credit counseling certificate with your bankruptcy paperwork. You must file the second debtor education certificate with the court, too. If your provider isn't going to file it for you, download the coversheet form (link below), complete it, and file it with the certificate.

Navigating Your Bankruptcy Case

Bankruptcy is an unusual area of law because it's essentially a qualification process. The laws provide instructions for completing a 50- to 60-page bankruptcy petition, and because all rules apply in every case, you can't skip a step.

The forms and resources below will help you find more information. Also, you can use this list of Chapter 7 and 13 bankruptcy forms to see where this topic falls. And this handy bankruptcy document checklist will help you gather the things you'll need to complete the petition.

More Bankruptcy Information

Bankruptcy Forms

Voluntary Petition (see Part 5)

Certification About a Financial Management Course

Related Information

The Chapter 7 Process

After Bankruptcy

Need More Info?

We want to help you find the answers you need. Go to TheBankruptcySite for more easy-to-understand bankruptcy articles, or consider buying a self-help book like The New Bankruptcy by Attorney Cara O'Neill.

We wholeheartedly encourage research and learning, but online articles can't address all bankruptcy issues or the facts of your case. The best way to protect your assets in bankruptcy is by consulting with a local bankruptcy lawyer.

Disability Eligibility Quiz Take our bankruptcy quiz to identify potential issues and learn how to best proceed with your bankruptcy case.

Talk to a Bankruptcy Lawyer

Need professional help? Start here.

How it Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you
Get Professional Help

Get debt relief now.

We've helped 205 clients find attorneys today.

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you