Let's Make Home Happen

January 2018, Volume 6 Issue 7

Encouraging HUD Certification through Reimbursements

The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) has developed a unique program to support its 73 housing counseling agencies through the HUD Certified Housing Counselor examination process.

PHFA recognizes there are two distinct costs associated with obtaining the certification:

  1. The cost of the exam itself ($60 or $100, depending on where the exam is taken); and,
  2. The cost associated with counselors’ study time, when they are not available to counsel clients.

After a counselor passes the certification exam, the housing counseling agency will be reimbursed for the cost of the exam (regardless of the number of times it takes the counselor to pass), plus the counselor’s hourly rate times the number of hours spent studying on agency time. For example, a counselor who is paid $20 per hour, studies for the exam for 12 hours on agency time, and takes the exam two times in-house will receive a $360 reimbursement: $120 for the cost of the exam (2 x $60), plus $240 for study time ($20 x 12).

To be eligible for the reimbursement, counselors must remain employed with the agency for six months after they pass the exam. After six months, the agency may submit an invoice for each counselor with appropriate documentation, including receipts for the exam(s), evidence that the counselor has passed the exam, and records of the time spent at work studying for the exam. If a counselor leaves the agency before the end of the six months, neither that agency, nor any agency that hires the counselor, receives reimbursement.

According to the Final Rule for Housing Counseling Certification, housing counselors must complete their certification by August 1, 2020 – 36 months after the date the exam became available. To avoid a rush at the end of the 36-month period, PHFA is encouraging its counselors to take and pass the exam as soon as possible. PHFA suggests that its agencies divide their counselors into groups to pursue certification in cohorts through the remainder of the certification period. 

Terri Redmond, PHFA’s Director of Counseling, says it is “exciting” to see HUD embrace education in the form of a counselor certification, and hopes that incentivizing the program will spur agencies to move quickly to have counselors certified. According to Redmond, who developed the reimbursement program, “This is a value-added service to our network. It’s important that we support our counselors in achieving this certification. Credentialing the industry will be very meaningful for consumers who want to use this service. Knowing they are going to have a HUD-certified counselor will give them confidence in the information they are receiving.” 

For more details on the reimbursement program, contact HUDReporting@phfa.org.

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