The Debtor Education Course Requirement in Bankruptcy

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

By , Attorney · University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law

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

  • You'll take the credit counseling course before bankruptcy.
  • After filing your case, you'll take the financial management or debtor education course.
  • You'll find approved course providers on the US Trustee Program website.
  • You'll file both completion certificates with the bankruptcy court.

And congratulations—filing the financial management course certificate is often the last step you'll take before your bankruptcy case ends.

Which Bankruptcy Course Is the Debtor Education Course?

The debtor education course is 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.

When Do I Have to Complete the Debtor Education Requirement?

The Chapter 7 deadline to file the second course certificate is 60 days after the 341 meeting of creditors. In Chapter 13, the deadline to file the financial management course certificate is simply before the filer makes the last Chapter 13 repayment plan payment.

Keep in mind that missing the certificate 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?

You'll be eligible for a fee waiver if your household income is below 150% of the poverty line. 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 these items to schedule a class, and you'll find them 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 financial management course 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, and the second debtor education certificate must also be filed with the court. 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 essentially a qualification process. The laws provide instructions for completing a 50- to 60-page bankruptcy petition, and because the rules apply to every case, you can't skip a step. We want to help.

Below is the bankruptcy form for this topic and other resources we think you'll enjoy. For more easy-to-understand articles, go to TheBankruptcySite.

More Bankruptcy Information

Bankruptcy Forms and Document Checklist

Voluntary Petition (see Part 5)

Certification About a Financial Management Course

Chapters 7 and 13 Bankruptcy Form List

Bankruptcy Document Checklist

More You Might Like

The Chapter 7 Process

Getting a Mortgage After Bankruptcy

Post-Bankruptcy Discrimination: What Is and Isn't Allowed

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 hiring a local bankruptcy lawyer.

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