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Financial Education

A debtor will not obtain a discharge unless he completes and approved course in personal financial management.

(a) Approved Provider Required. The course can be taken only by a course provider that has been approved by the U.S. Trustee of the district in which the course is held. Most of the approved credit counseling agencies have also been approved to provide the financial management course. In Chapter 13 cases, many of the Chapter 13 trustees have also been approved to give the financial management course. Go to the U.S. Trustee website for a list of the approved course providers.

(b) Method (in Person, Telephone or Internet). The course can be taken in person, by telephone or on the internet. As with the approved credit counseling agen­cies, most of the approved course providers advertise the ability to complete the session on the internet.

(c) Fees. The only standard for fees is that they must be “reasonable” and the course must be provided without regard to the debtor’s ability to pay any fee charged for the course. Currently, the fees charged by approved providers for the Southern District of Texas range between $10 and $50.

(d) Timing of Course. In Chapter 7 cases, the course must be completed within 45 days after the creditors meeting (normally about 3 months after the case is filed). In Chapter 13 cases, the debtor must complete the course prior to making the last pay­ment due under the Chapter 13 plan (between 3 and 5 years after the case is filed).