July/August 2019, Volume 7 Issue 10
Mythbusters Q&A: Housing Counseling Certification
HUD’s Office of Housing Counseling held a webinar, Housing Counseling Program Certification: HUD Exchange Resources, on May 23, 2019, to review the certification requirements in brief and demonstrate the HUD Exchange Certification Rule pages. A number of specific questions were asked, as well as some frequently asked questions on the certification rule and exam, including:
Can you tell us how many individuals are certified and as of what date?
- Periodically, as part of training or outreach, the Office of Housing Counseling may provide updates on the total number of HUD-certified housing counselors. During the webinar held on May 23, 2019, HUD relayed that 804 counselors were certified. To find the most updated information, check the Tracking Our Progress page, which shows the percentage of housing counseling agencies with certified counselors.
What’s the role of a HUD Intermediary in the certification process?
- There are many options for HUD Intermediaries to be involved in the certification process, including providing incentives for counselors to become certified, training, etc. Some HUD Intermediaries also serve as FHA Connection (FHAC) Application Coordinators.
- For more information on the roles of HUD Intermediaries, please view the 2018 Housing Counseling Intermediary Conference: Certification Update and Lessons Learned presentation or view the video session recording.
- For more information on application coordinator duties, please view the HUD Certified Housing Counselor Application Process page.
If a counselor is hired in the middle of 2020, how long do they have to become certified?
- As of August 1, 2020, the Final Compliance Date, a counselor must be HUD-certified before providing housing counseling for a HUD Participating Agency. A new counselor or other agency staff person who has not passed the certification examination may work for a Participating Agency, and assist HUD certified counselors, but may not provide housing counseling or oversee group education sessions. When can a new counselor begin providing housing counseling for an agency approved to participate in HUD’s Housing Counseling Program?
What percentage of counselors need to be certified per agency?
- There is no percentage. Every housing counseling agency must have at least one certified counselor. The number will depend on the number of counselors needed to deliver the HUD housing counseling services outlined in the agency’s most recently approved housing counseling work plan.
If the staff member who serves as the housing counseling supervisor does not perform direct housing counseling, does he/she need to pass the certification exam?
- No. For more information, view the FAQ, Who must be certified in an agency approved to participate in HUD's Housing Counseling Program?
Do I have to apply for certification again when I change employment by a HUD-approved agency?
- Yes. Each housing counseling agency is required to verify employment for its certified housing counselors. For more information view the FAQ: If an individual takes and passes the certification exam and is verified as a HUD Certified Counselor working for an agency, and then leaves that agency to work for another HUD approved agency, does the certification follow that individual?
Practice Exam & Training
Why don’t you receive the results from the practice exam?
- The practice exam is designed to provide a feel for the course format, not specific answers or results. Following completion of the practice exam, candidates receive a performance report with recommended areas for improvement. The recommendations are based on how well candidates perform in each content area of the examination:
- Areas in which candidates perform well receive feedback that some additional review is recommended for continued success
- Areas in which performance was marginal receive feedback that additional study is needed for moderate improvement
- Areas in which performance was weak receive feedback that significant study is needed for considerable improvement
What are the fees associated with the practice exam?
- There are no fees for the practice exam.
Is it possible to get a different practice exam?
- HUD currently offers only one version of the practice exam. HUD is working on additional ways to help counselors study for the exam and will update counselors through the Housing Counseling mailing list when additional materials are available.
Will there be any certification training in the state of NC?
- Training is available across the country in many locations. Please view the weekly training digest where a number of HUD Office of Housing Counseling training partners offer certification training.
Do I have to retake the exam?
- You do not have to retake the exam once you pass. For more information, view the FAQ, Will counselors have to take continuing education courses to maintain HUD certified housing counselor certification?
What is the cost of the exam?
- The cost is $60 for the in-person exam; $100 for the proctored exam. For more information, view the FAQ, How much does it cost to take the Certification Exam?
Can you take the exam again if you don’t pass the first time?
- Yes! For more information, view the FAQ, If a counselor fails to pass the certification examination, how soon can he/she retake the exam?
What is the minimum percentage a person needs to pass the exam?
- There is no minimum percentage. There is a minimum score of 500. For more information, view the FAQ, Please explain the “scaled” scoring process. What is one correct answer worth?
How long can you pause the exam and come back to it?
- If you take the exam online, you cannot pause it because it is live and proctored. If there is a reasonable accommodation request, please view the FAQ, Will there be accommodations for those with disabilities?
FHA Connection (FHAC)
What is an FHAC Application Coordinator?
- An FHAC Application Coordinator is an individual that a HUD-participating agency designates to verify the employment status of individuals who work for their agency.
Is the FHAC Coordinator for Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) allowed to be the FHA Coordinator for HUD Housing Counselor Certification?
- Yes. The only prohibition, due to the HUD system protocols, is that the coordinator cannot be the same person currently registered in in the Line of Credit Control System (LOCCS) or the Web Access Security Subsystem (WASS, Secure System), nor can the coordinator currently act as the FHA lender coordinator for the agency.
Can an agency complete the FHAC coordinator process prior to the counselor taking the exam?
- Yes, the agency can register their FHAC Coordinator before a counselor takes and passes the exam. For more information on the steps associated for registration of an FHAC Coordinator, please view the HUD Certified Housing Counselor Application Process page.
Why does the process take so long after a counselor has passed the exam?
- Some users are not familiar with FHA Connection and the steps required to complete the HUD certified housing counselor application process. There are a number of tips for FHA Connection steps, including verification of employment by the FHAC Coordinator, on the HUD Certified Housing Counselor Application Process page.
What if your agency manager is already registered in the FHA Connection?
- If this person is registered as the FHAC Coordinator, the manager will need to verify the employment for counselors that have passed the certification exam. Learn more about who can become an FHAC application coordinator.
If you are already a HECM counselor, what do you need to do to become certified?
- While you do need to take and pass the HUD Certified Housing Counseling exam, if you have an FHAC user ID already, you don’t need to request another FHA Connection ID. Please see the HUD certified counselor’s Application Instructions.
To further assist counselors in preparing for the HUD Housing Counselor certification exam, the HUD Office of Housing Counseling launched a new, free HUD Certified Housing Counselor Knowledge Assessment Tool located on the HUD Housing Counselor training and testing page at HUDHousingCounselors.com. This Knowledge Assessment does not replace or replicate the existing practice exam in style, format, or length, but does provide candidates with more detailed feedback. The assessment also offers insight into the rationale behind correct and incorrect answers, as well as recommended topics for further study. With questions linked to training content, the feedback will offer teaching guidance to help candidates identify areas of strength and weakness for continued study. This new Knowledge Assessment tool is also available in Spanish.