People have personal reasons for taking on debt, and the situations that make the payments impossible are typically just as unique. When financial hardship leads people to opt for bankruptcy, they must follow certain steps, regardless of the circumstances that brought about the situation. Two of these, according to the Federal Trade Commission, are specific educational courses that must be taken before filing for bankruptcy and before the debt is discharged.
The Department of Justice’s U.S. Trustee Program notes that only approved organizations can provide the pre-bankruptcy credit counseling required by law. When people enroll in a session, they must be informed of the cost beforehand, although a person who cannot pay may have the fee waived. The counseling may be conducted on the Internet, on the phone or in person, and will cover issues such as budgeting and options other than bankruptcy. The session must be taken within 180 days of filing, and the certificate of completion is a necessary document when filing.
The educational requirements that must be completed before the bankruptcy is discharged share a number of similar elements, including the fee, certificate and format. However, the lesson plans themselves are different, and the two programs may not be taken at the same time. The final session should educate enrollees about how to manage finances and create a budget, as well as a sensible approach to credit.
The U.S. Trustee Program explains that two people who have filed for bankruptcy jointly must each complete the session and receive two separate certificates. However, they may attend the course together.