Approved Credit Counseling Agencies for Pennsylvania

 If you are among the nearly 800,000 Americans thinking about filing for personal bankruptcy this year, then there’s a chance that you’ve done all your homework and know exactly what to expect. If you haven’t yet done the research, then you may be surprised to learn that there’s more to the process than filing paperwork. One of the most important required steps, which was introduced under the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005, is getting credit counseling from a government approved organization within six months of filing – and that has to be done before you actually file. Another requirement is completing an education course that is specifically designed to prevent you from getting into financial trouble in the future.  The courses and the counseling both need to be provided by specifically identified organizations that have been approved by the Department of Justice’s U.S. Trustee Program. At Erik B. Jensen and Associates, we do everything we can to support our clients who are approaching bankruptcy, and are available to provide you with a list of approved credit counseling agencies for Pennsylvania that are convenient for you.

The mandatory credit counseling and debtor education that bankruptcy filers are required to undergo are two separate and distinct programs, and the law forbids them to be provided as a single program – they must be taken separately from each other, with the counseling occurring before the filing is completed and the educational aspect provided afterwards. In fact, when you submit your bankruptcy filing it generally must be accompanied by certification of having completed the coursework, and your debts will not be discharged without this evidence being submitted.

In order to ensure that the system is not coopted or in any way compromised, the bankruptcy courts require that the courses be provided only by those who are on the approved list, and the certifications are produced through an automated system that is proprietary to approved educators. The pre-filing counseling is designed to evaluate the individual’s specific financial situation and provide them with information on bankruptcy, budgeting, and alternatives to filing for bankruptcy. It lasts about an hour, and can be accomplished online, on the phone, or in person, and can be provided at no charge for those whose financial situation requires it – otherwise the fee is usually about $50. The education offered after the filing further stresses budgeting skills and money management, and generally costs between $50 and $100 unless the filer applies to have the fee waived.

If you are considering filing for bankruptcy and would like to get a jump on the required courses, you can check out the list of approved debtor education providers at the Department of Justice website,  The attorneys at Erik B. Jensen and Associates can also refer you to approved programs, as well as provide you with the legal counsel you need to ensure that you fulfill all of the requirements of bankruptcy filing appropriately. Call us today to set up an appointment.