Last December, HUD issued a Final Rule for the Housing Counseling program that requires that all individuals who provide housing counseling in connection with a HUD program must take and pass a HUD-administered certification exam.
When will the exam be available?
The exam became available in August of 2017.
Who needs to take the exam?
All counselors working for a HUD Approved Counseling Agency will need to take and pass the examination in order to continue working with clients. Personnel that do not provide one-on-one or group counseling to consumers will not be required to take the exam. For example, an Executive Director would only need to take the exam if they directly counsel consumers.
When do I need to take the exam?
As of August 1, 2020, housing counseling required by or provided in connection with HUD programs may only be provided by HUD certified housing counselors who have passed the exam. Counselors who do not pass the exam on the first try may retake the exam as many times as necessary to receive a passing grade. There is no continuing education requirement currently mandated.
How much will it cost?
The exam will also be cheaper than originally expected. If you are able to make arrangements to take it at your office, the cost will be $60; if you take it at a proctoring site, the cost will be $100. Counselors should expect a charge to retake the exam.
What will the exam cover?
- Financial Management
- Housing Affordability
- Fair Housing
- Avoiding Foreclosure
How long will the exam be?
The exam will be 90 questions long and you will have two hours to answer them.
How will the exam be scored?
The examination is comprehensive, and counselors will need to understand all of the topics listed above to pass. The test is scored from 200 to 800, and the minimum passing score is 500.
Upon passing the exam, a counselor will receive a “HUD Certified Housing Counselor” certificate. A counselor must work for a HUD Approved Housing Counseling Agency for the certificate to be valid. Counselors who pass the exam but do not work for a HUD Approved Housing Counseling Agency will not be considered a HUD Certified Counselor until employed by a HUD approved agency.
How can I prepare?
Registration opened on August 1, 2017. Housing counselors are encouraged to start a user account here that will allow you to take the practice exam.
Housing Action Illinois is offering a six-week online study group to help counselors prepare for the examination. Learn more and sign up to join.
HUD has previously published exam study guides at its HUD Housing Counselor website.