In December 2016, 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.

HUD Certification Exam Online Study Group

When is the certification deadline?

The August 1, 2020 deadline has been extended for a year. The new deadline is August 1, 2021.

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?

Housing counselors must create an account at You will then have access to a study guide, knowledge assessment tool, and practice exam, and you will be able to schedule a test date.

What will the exam cover?

The test covers the following six topics:

  • Financial Management
  • Housing Affordability
  • Fair Housing
  • Homeownership
  • Avoiding Foreclosure
  • Tenancy

How long will the exam be?

You have two hours to complete the test, which has 90 multiple choice questions.

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. If you pass the exam, you will receive a notification that simply says “pass.” If you do not pass the exam, you will receive your score, along with an explanation of the topics that require additional study.

Is there a fee to take the exam?

If you take the test at your home or office, the cost is $60. If you go to a testing center, the cost is $100.

Does Housing Action Illinois provide training to help counselors prepare for the exam?

Housing Action Illinois is offering online study groups to help counselors prepare for the examination. Learn more.

If I’m certified, do I still need to take additional counseling training courses?

Yes, additional training helps you to remain current on housing counseling trends and resources to better serve your clients and the community. HUD encourages housing counselors to attend formal training courses. 

What happens if I don’t pass the exam by August 1, 2021?

An individual who has not passed the certification examination may work for an agency participating in HUD’s Housing Counseling Program, and assist HUD certified counselors, but may not provide housing counseling under HUD’s Housing Counseling Program.