Who Requires a Credit Counseling Certificate?
A credit counseling certificate is also known as a bankruptcy certificate. If you file for bankruptcy, you must obtain certificates at two stages of the process:
- When you file for bankruptcy
- After you file for bankruptcy but before your debts are discharged
To receive these credit counseling certificates, you must complete two courses from a debt relief agency that is approved by the Department of Justice. The course requirements are in two provisions of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005, which mandates financial counseling and education for persons filing for bankruptcy. The first course focuses on bankruptcy and alternatives to bankruptcy, while the second provides information on how to manage your personal finances. These credit counseling courses are intended to provide debtors the skills and resources needed to avoid future financial problems.
How to Receive a Credit Counseling Certificate
The first credit counseling certificate must be received before you can file for bankruptcy. To achieve this, you must enroll in a 60- to 90-minute pre-bankruptcy counseling session. The cost is usually around $50, but counseling agencies are required to provide pre-bankruptcy credit counseling at no charge in cases of financial hardship. By completing this counseling session you will earn a credit counseling certificate which is valid for six months if you decide to proceed with the bankruptcy.
The second credit counseling certificate is granted after you complete a debtor education course, also known as post-bankruptcy debtor education. This course must be administered by an approved agency, and must be a minimum of two hours long. Topics included in these debtor education sessions include how to manage money; how to develop a budget; how to use credit responsibly; and where to find additional resources and help for managing your personal finances. The cost of these post-bankruptcy debtor education courses range from $50 to $100. As with the pre-bankruptcy sessions, waivers for the post-bankruptcy sessions are available if you cannot afford to pay the fee.
The credit counseling certificate for the post-bankruptcy debtor education must be filed:
- Within 45 days after the creditors meeting for Chapter 7 cases
- No later than the date of your last payment in the repayment plan or the date of the filing for the Motion for a Discharge for Chapter 13 cases.
Do You Need a Credit Counseling Certificate? ACCC Can Help
If you are concerned that your debts are growing out of control and believe that filing for bankruptcy is your only choice, please contact American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC). Through our debt assistance programs, we are able to provide options to your specific financial situation. If you do decide to pursue bankruptcy, we offer approved pre- and post-bankruptcy credit counseling certificate courses. As a non-profit, Better Business Bureau accredited credit counseling agency, we’ve been helping consumers overcome their financial problems for more than two decades.