Is Bankruptcy the Fresh Financial Start You Need?

Bankruptcy is a word that often brings mixed feelings. On one hand, it symbolizes a challenging financial predicament; on the other, it offers a glimmer of hope – a chance to reset financially and start anew. In essence, bankruptcy is a legal process designed to help individuals and businesses overcome overwhelming debt. It’s like hitting a reset button on your finances, but it’s crucial to understand that this decision comes with significant consequences and should not be taken lightly.

The purpose of this article is to demystify the concept of bankruptcy and provide you with a clear understanding of when and why it might be necessary to file for it. Whether you’re drowning in debt, facing incessant calls from creditors, or just curious about the process, this guide aims to shed light on the intricacies of bankruptcy and help you make an informed decision.

Filing for bankruptcy is not just about escaping debt; it’s about strategically planning for a more stable financial future. So, let’s dive in and explore the crucial aspects of bankruptcy, ensuring you have all the information you need to navigate this complex but potentially life-altering journey.

Decoding Bankruptcy & What It Really Means For You

Bankruptcy, at its core, is a legal procedure that provides relief to individuals and businesses burdened by unmanageable debt. It’s a form of financial rehabilitation, allowing you to either eliminate most of your debts (discharge) or reorganize them in a more manageable way.

There are two main types of bankruptcy that individuals often consider:

  1. Chapter 7 Bankruptcy: This type is also known as ‘liquidation bankruptcy.’ It’s designed for those who don’t have a significant income to pay off their debts. In this process, some of your assets may be sold to pay off as much debt as possible. After the liquidation, most of your remaining unsecured debts (like credit card bills and medical expenses) are discharged, meaning you’re no longer legally required to pay them.
  2. Chapter 13 Bankruptcy: Often referred to as ‘reorganization bankruptcy,’ this is more suitable for individuals with a regular income. Instead of selling your assets, Chapter 13 involves creating a repayment plan to pay back all or part of your debts over a period, usually three to five years. It’s a way to get a handle on your debts while potentially keeping your property, like your home or car.

Both types of bankruptcy have their specific criteria, processes, and consequences. Understanding the nuances of each can help you determine which, if either, is right for your situation. Bankruptcy can provide a path out of overwhelming debt, but it’s important to approach it with a clear understanding of what it entails and how it will impact your financial life.

Reasons to Consider Bankruptcy

Deciding to file for bankruptcy is a significant step, often considered as a last resort. It’s important to understand the circumstances where bankruptcy could be the most sensible option:

  1. Overwhelming Debt: If you find yourself drowning in debt, with no feasible way to pay it off, bankruptcy can offer relief. This is especially true if your debts are mainly unsecured, like credit card bills or medical expenses.
  2. Legal Protection – Automatic Stay: Filing for bankruptcy triggers an ‘automatic stay.’ This is a legal injunction that stops creditors from pursuing debt collection efforts, including incessant phone calls, demand letters, and legal action. This protection can provide much-needed peace and time to reorganize your finances.
  3. Preventing Severe Consequences: In certain situations, like facing eviction, foreclosure, or utility disconnections, declaring bankruptcy can provide temporary protection. It can halt these actions, giving you a chance to catch up or restructure your debts.

While these are common reasons people opt for bankruptcy, it’s crucial to assess your unique financial situation thoroughly. Bankruptcy can offer a fresh start, but it also comes with long-term financial and legal implications. Before deciding, consider all aspects of your financial health and explore all other debt relief options. Bankruptcy should be a well-informed choice, not a hasty decision made under duress.

Evaluating Your Finances: Is Bankruptcy Your Best Option?

Before you decide to file for bankruptcy, it’s crucial to take a step back and assess your financial situation comprehensively. Here are some key questions to help you evaluate whether bankruptcy is the right choice for you:

  1. Negotiation Attempts with Creditors: Have you reached out to your creditors to discuss your situation? Many creditors are willing to negotiate repayment plans, interest rate reductions, or even debt settlements. If you haven’t explored these avenues yet, it might be worth a try before considering bankruptcy.
  2. Liability-Asset Ratio: Compare your total liabilities (debts) to your assets (things you own that have value, like a house or car). If your debts significantly exceed your assets and there’s no realistic way to bridge this gap, bankruptcy might offer a viable solution.
  3. Dependence on Credit for Debt Payments: Are you caught in a cycle of using credit to pay off other debts? This pattern can lead to a rapidly worsening financial situation. If you’re using credit to stay afloat, it might be time to consider bankruptcy as a way to break free from this cycle.
  4. Repayment Timeframe: Calculate the total amount of your debts and estimate how long it will take to pay them off. If it seems like you won’t be able to clear your debts within a reasonable timeframe (like five years), bankruptcy could provide much-needed relief.

Analyzing these aspects of your financial situation can provide clarity on your next steps. If after careful consideration, you find that your debts are unmanageable and other debt relief options aren’t viable, bankruptcy could be a responsible choice. It’s about regaining control over your finances and paving the way for a more stable financial future.

A Closer Look at Chapter 7 vs. Chapter 13

Understanding the differences between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies is crucial in determining which path is best suited for your financial situation.

  1. Chapter 7 Bankruptcy – Liquidation:
    • Suitable For: Individuals with limited income who cannot pay off their unsecured debts.
    • Process: Involves liquidating your non-exempt assets to pay creditors. Certain personal assets may be exempt from liquidation, depending on state laws.
    • Outcome: Most of your remaining unsecured debts are discharged. However, not all types of debt can be discharged (like certain taxes and student loans).
    • Duration: The process is relatively quick, typically taking about 4-6 months.
  2. Chapter 13 Bankruptcy – Reorganization:
    • Suitable For: Individuals with regular income who can pay back their debts but need time to catch up.
    • Process: You propose a repayment plan to pay back all or part of your debts over a period of 3-5 years. The plan must be approved by the court.
    • Outcome: You can keep most of your assets while reorganizing and consolidating your debts. After completing the repayment plan, the remaining eligible debts are discharged.
    • Duration: The process takes longer, usually 3-5 years, depending on your repayment plan.

Pros and Cons:

  • Chapter 7: Quick resolution and discharge of debts, but you might lose some assets. It’s more damaging to your credit score and stays on your credit report for 10 years.
  • Chapter 13: Allows you to keep your assets and less damaging to your credit score (stays on your report for 7 years). However, the commitment to a 3-5 year repayment plan requires financial stability and discipline.

Each type of bankruptcy has its own set of complexities and implications. It’s essential to consider which type aligns with your financial goals and current situation. Remember, bankruptcy is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and the decision should be made with careful consideration and, ideally, with guidance from a financial counselor or bankruptcy attorney.

Understanding the Potential Long-Term Implications of Filing Bankruptcy

Filing for bankruptcy can provide immediate relief from debt, but it’s important to understand the long-term implications it has on your financial future, particularly regarding your credit score and future borrowing potential.

  1. Effect on Credit Score: Bankruptcy can significantly lower your credit score. A drop of 100 to 200 points is common, making it more challenging to qualify for credit cards, loans, or mortgages in the future. The impact varies depending on your credit score before filing.
  2. Duration on Credit Report:
    • Chapter 7 Bankruptcy: Stays on your credit report for 10 years.
    • Chapter 13 Bankruptcy: Remains on your report for 7 years.
  3. Future Borrowing:
    • Getting approved for new credit or loans after bankruptcy can be difficult, especially in the first few years. Lenders may view you as a high-risk borrower.
    • Interest rates and terms on future loans or credit lines may be less favorable.
    • Some lenders specialize in lending to individuals post-bankruptcy, but it’s crucial to be wary of predatory practices.
  4. Rebuilding Your Credit:
    • Post-bankruptcy, there are ways to rebuild your credit. This includes responsible use of secured credit cards, timely payments on any remaining or new debts, and keeping debt levels low.
    • It’s a gradual process, but consistent financial responsibility can improve your credit over time.
  5. Professional and Personal Considerations:
    • In some professions, filing for bankruptcy may have implications for your job or professional licensing.
    • Bankruptcy can be emotionally challenging and may impact personal relationships. It’s important to have a support system and possibly seek professional counseling.

Understanding these implications is vital in making an informed decision about bankruptcy. While it offers a fresh start, it’s a path that requires careful navigation and a commitment to rebuilding your financial health over the long term.

Making the Big Decision & Whether You Should File For Bankruptcy

Deciding to file for bankruptcy should be based on a careful evaluation of your current financial situation and an understanding of the implications of bankruptcy. Here are some considerations to help you decide:

  1. Analyzing Your Debt Situation:
    • If your debts are primarily from sources like medical bills, credit cards, or personal loans, and you see no feasible way to pay them off, bankruptcy might be a suitable option.
    • Evaluate if your debts are dischargeable in bankruptcy. Not all debts, like certain taxes and student loans, can be eliminated.
  2. Considering Your Assets and Income:
    • If you have significant assets you wish to protect, Chapter 13 might be more appropriate.
    • Assess if your income level qualifies you for Chapter 7, or if a structured repayment plan under Chapter 13 is more feasible.
  3. Understanding the Impact on Your Future:
    • Be prepared for the impact on your credit score and the challenges in obtaining future credit.
    • Consider how bankruptcy might affect your professional life and personal relationships.
  4. Exploring Alternatives:
    • Before deciding on bankruptcy, explore other debt relief options like debt consolidation, debt management plans, or negotiating with creditors.
    • Sometimes, a combination of budget adjustments and debt restructuring can provide a viable solution without the need for bankruptcy.
  5. Seeking Professional Advice:
    • Consult with a financial counselor or a bankruptcy attorney to discuss your specific situation and get professional advice.
    • A professional can help you understand the legal and financial aspects of bankruptcy and guide you in making the best decision for your circumstances.

Deciding to file for bankruptcy is a personal choice that depends on various factors unique to your financial situation. It should be considered as a tool for financial recovery and not just an easy way out of debt. It’s a step towards a fresh financial start, but it requires commitment and careful planning to regain and maintain financial stability.

The Role of a Bankruptcy Attorney

Filing for bankruptcy is a complex legal process that can be challenging to navigate on your own. While it’s possible to file without an attorney (pro se), seeking the guidance of a seasoned bankruptcy attorney can greatly benefit your case.

  1. Expertise in Bankruptcy Law:
    • Bankruptcy attorneys are well-versed in the nuances of bankruptcy law and can help you understand which type of bankruptcy is suitable for your situation.
    • They can provide insights into how the law applies to your specific case, helping you avoid common pitfalls.
  2. Navigating the Filing Process:
    • An attorney can ensure that all paperwork is completed accurately and filed on time, reducing the risk of having your case dismissed due to errors.
    • They can represent you in court and handle communications with creditors, relieving you from the stress of direct negotiations.
  3. Maximizing Your Benefits:
    • A skilled attorney can help protect your assets to the fullest extent possible under the law.
    • They can advise on strategies to discharge as much debt as possible and potentially negotiate more favorable terms for repayment plans.
  4. Cost vs. Benefit:
    • While hiring an attorney involves costs, the potential benefits often outweigh the expense. Mistakes in the filing process can be costly and may result in the loss of rights or assets.
    • Many bankruptcy attorneys offer a free initial consultation, allowing you to understand the potential costs and benefits before committing.
  5. Finding the Right Attorney:
    • Look for an attorney with experience in handling cases similar to yours.
    • Check their credentials, reviews, and track record for successful bankruptcy filings.
    • Ensure they communicate clearly and are responsive to your needs.
  6. The Emotional Aspect:
    • Dealing with bankruptcy can be emotionally taxing. An attorney can provide not only legal support but also peace of mind, knowing that your case is being handled by a professional.

In summary, while it’s not mandatory to hire a bankruptcy attorney, their expertise can be invaluable in ensuring that your bankruptcy process is as smooth and beneficial as possible. They can serve as both a legal advisor and an advocate for your financial future.

Bankruptcy: A Step Toward Financial Recovery and Stability

Navigating the complexities of bankruptcy is no small feat. It’s a decision that can significantly impact your financial future, offering both challenges and opportunities for a fresh start. As you consider whether to file for bankruptcy, remember the key points we’ve covered:

  1. Understanding Bankruptcy: Recognize that bankruptcy is a legal process designed for financial reset, with different types suited to different situations.
  2. Reasons to File: Consider bankruptcy if you’re facing overwhelming debt, need protection from creditors, or are in a situation like potential eviction or utility disconnection.
  3. Assessing Your Situation: Evaluate your financial position thoroughly. Consider your debt levels, assets, and any attempts you’ve made to negotiate with creditors.
  4. Types of Bankruptcy: Understand the differences between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13, and how each affects your assets, debts, and future financial health.
  5. Impact on Future: Be mindful of how bankruptcy will affect your credit score and future borrowing capabilities.
  6. Making the Decision: Reflect on your specific financial circumstances, the potential impact on your future, and all available alternatives to bankruptcy.
  7. Seeking Professional Help: Consider consulting with a bankruptcy attorney for expert advice and assistance in navigating the legal process.

Bankruptcy should not be seen as an easy way out but as a tool for financial recovery and a stepping stone to a more stable financial future. It requires careful consideration, planning, and a commitment to better financial management post-bankruptcy. If you decide that bankruptcy is the right path for you, approach it as an informed and proactive step towards regaining control of your financial life.

Resources:

For further guidance and support, consider reaching out to financial counseling services, legal aid societies, or bankruptcy attorneys in your area. These professionals can provide personalized advice and help you make the best decision for your unique financial situation. Remember, you’re not alone in this journey, and there are resources available to help you navigate through it.

About the Author

Client Credit Report Authorization

You hereby authorize and instruct Debt Reduction Services, Inc. (DRS, dba Money Fit by DRS) and/or its assigned agents to:
  • Obtain and review your credit report, and
  • Request verifications of your income and rental history, and any other information deemed necessary for improving your housing situation (for example, verifying your annual property tax obligations and homeowner’s insurance fees)
Your credit report will be obtained from a credit reporting agency chosen by DRS. You understand and agree that DRS intends to use the credit report evaluate your financial readiness to purchase or rent a home and/or to engage in post-purchase counseling activities and not to grant credit. You understand you may ask any questions pertaining to your credit report. However, while DRS will review the information with you, the company is not able to furnish you with a copy of your credit profile. You hereby authorize DRS to share your information from your credit report and any information that you provided (including any computations and assessments produced) with the entities listed below to help DRS determine your viable financial options.
  • Banks
  • Counseling Agencies
  • Debt Collectors
  • Landlords
  • Lenders
  • Mortgage Servicers
  • Property Management Companies
  • Public Housing Authorities
  • Social Service Agencies
Entities such as mortgage lenders and/or counseling agencies may contact your DRS counselor to evaluate the options for which you may be eligible. In connection with such evaluation, you authorize the credit reporting and/or financial agencies to release information and cooperate with your DRS counselor. No information will be discussed about you with entities not directly involved in your efforts to improve your housing situation. You hereby authorize the release of your information to program monitoring organizations of DRS, including but not limited to, Federal, State, and nonprofit partners for program review, monitoring, auditing, research, and/or oversight purposes. In addition, you authorize DRS to have your credit report pulled two additional times to conduct program evaluations. You also agree to keep DRS informed of any changes in address, telephone number, job status, marital status, or other conditions which may affect your eligibility for a program you have applied for or a counseling service that you are seeking. Finally, you understand that you may revoke consent to these disclosures by notifying DRS in writing.

Client Privacy, Data Security, and Client Rights Policy

NOTE: This sheet is to inform new or returning clients about our services, records, fees, and limitations that may affect you as a consumer of our services. This form also discloses how we might release your information to other agencies and/or regulators. If you do not understand a statement, please ask a Debt Reduction Services (DRS) counselor for assistance.

Debt Reduction Services, Inc. (DRS) has put into place policies and procedures to protect the security and confidentiality of your nonpublic personal information. This notice explains our online information practices and how we use and maintain your information to conduct our financial education and credit counseling sessions and to fulfill information and question requests. This privacy policy complies with federal laws and regulations.

To provide our financial education and credit counseling services, we collect nonpublic personal information about you as follows: 1) Information we receive from you, 2) Information about your transactions with us or others, and 3) Information we receive from your creditors or a consumer reporting agency. We do not share this information with outside parties.

We use non-identifying and aggregate information to better design our website and services, but we do not disclose anything that could be used to identify you as an individual.

You hereby authorize DRS, when necessary, to share your nonpublic personal, financial, credit, and any information that you provided (including any computations and assessments produced) with the following entities in order to help DRS provide you with appropriate counseling or guide you to appropriate services: third parties such as government agencies, your lender(s), your creditor(s), and nonprofit housing-related and other financial agencies as permitted by law, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

To prevent unauthorized access, maintain data accuracy, and ensure the correct use of information, we have put in place appropriate physical, electronic, and managerial procedures to safeguard and secure the information we collect online. We limit access to your nonpublic personal information to our employees, contractors and agents who need such access to provide products or services to you or for other legitimate business purposes.

Debt Reduction Services, Inc. complies with the privacy requirements set forth in the HUD housing counseling agency handbook 7610.1 (05/2010), including the sections 2-2 Mc, 3-1 H(2), 3-3, 5-3 F, and Attachment A.5. At all times, we will comply with all additional laws and regulations to which we are subject regarding the collection, use, and disclosure of individually identifiable information.

  1. Services: DRS provides the following housing-related services: counseling that includes Homeless Assistance, Rental Topics, Pre-purchase/Homebuying, and Home Maintenance and Financial Management for Homeowners (Non-Delinquency Post-Purchase); Education courses that include Financial literacy (including home affordability, budgeting, and understanding use of credit), Predatory lending, loan scam or other fraud prevention, Fair housing, Rental topics, Pre-purchase homebuyer education, Non-delinquency post-purchase workshop (including home maintenance and/or financial management for homeowners), and other workshops not listed above.

Please refer to DebtReductionServices.org for details of our services.

  1. Limits: Our services are limited to our normal weekday business hours. We do not provide individual counseling or education services after hours or on weekends, although our education courses are available 24/7.
  2. Fees: We do not charge fees for our financial management counseling and education. However, if you use them, you may have to pay for our Debt Management Program, Student Loan Counseling, Bankruptcy Certificate Services or certain financial education courses (homebuyer education, rental topics, fair housing, predatory lending, and post-purchase-non-delinquency including home maintenance and/or financial management for homeowners).
  3. Records: We maintain records of the services you receive, including notes about your progress or other relevant information to your work with us. You have the right to access and view your records by making a request to your counselor.
  4. Confidentiality: We respect your privacy and offer our services in confidence with the understanding that we may share such information with auditors and government regulators. Certain laws or situations may also lead to disclosing confidential issues, such as those involving potential child abuse or neglect, threats to harm self or others, or court subpoenas.
  5. Refusal of Services: You have the right to refuse services without any penalty or loss.
  6. Disclosure of Policies and Practices: You will be provided our agency disclosure statement.
  7. Sharing of Information: Sometimes we will need to contact other agencies or we may need to share your information, including your records, with other agencies or with regulators. We will do this only if you sign this form that gives us permission except for limited reasons; please see # 5 above for examples of such situations.
  8. Other: You have the right to be treated with respect by our staff, and we expect the same from you in return. We encourage you to always ask questions if something is not clear. We also encouraged you to express your thoughts and advocate throughout our services.

You acknowledge that this authorization will remain in effect for the duration of time that DRS serves as your housing counselor or financial education provider. You also acknowledge that should you wish to terminate this authorization, you will notify DRS in writing.

Disclosure  Statement

NOTE: If you have an impairment, disability, language barrier, or otherwise require an alternative means of completing this form or accessing information about our counseling services, please communicate with your DRS representative about arranging alternative accommodations.

Program Disclosure Form

Disclosure to Client for HUD Housing Counseling Services

Debt Reduction Services, Inc. and its financial education arm, Money Fit by DRS, offer the following housing counseling and educational services related to housing, personal finance, and bankruptcy certificates to consumers:
  • Housing Education Courses: DRS offers many online self-guided education programs classified as Financial, Budgeting, and Credit Workshops (FBC), Fair Housing Pre-Purchase Education Workshops (FHW), Homelessness Prevention Workshops (HMW), Non-Delinquency Post Purchase Workshops (NDW), Predatory Lending Education Workshops (PLW), Pre-purchase Homebuyer Education Workshops (PPW), and Rental Housing Workshops (RHW). These courses help participants increase their knowledge of and skills in personal finance, including home affordability, budgeting, and understanding the use of credit, as well as predatory lending, loan scams, and other fraud prevention topics, fair housing, rental topics, pre-purchase homebuyer education, non-delinquency post-purchase topics including home maintenance and/or financial management for homeowners, homeless prevention workshop, and other workshops not listed above relating to personal finance and housing. Course details are found below under “Housing Workshops.”
  • Home Equity Conversation Mortgage (HECM) Counseling (RMC): Via telephone and virtual platforms, we offer the required HECM counseling nationwide in addition to in-person counseling in Boise, Idaho. We also offer in-home counseling options in thirty counties across southern Idaho for an additional fee to cover our travel and additional staff time costs.
  • Home Maintenance and Financial Management for Homeowners (Non-Delinquency Post-Purchase) (FBC): Clients receive counseling and materials on the proper maintenance of their home and mortgage refinancing. Clients can find help and resources by phone, in our Boise office, or virtually on all topics related to stabilizing their long-term homeownership.
  • Services for Homeless Counseling (HMC): Clients receive phone, virtual, or in-person (Boise) counseling to evaluate their current housing needs, identify barriers to and goals for housing stability, establish a path to self-sufficiency, and connect with emergency shelters, income-appropriate housing, and/or other community resources (e.g. mental healthcare, job training, transportation, etc.).
  • Pre-Purchase Counseling (PPC): Clients receive counseling through the entire homebuying process. Assistance may involve creating a sustainable household budget, understanding mortgage options, building their credit rating, and putting together a realistic action plan to set and achieve homeownership goals.  Additionally, clients will receive materials and resources about home inspections and other homeownership topics relevant to successfully maintaining a home.
  • Rental Housing Counseling (RHC): Via phone, in-person appointments (Boise, ID), or virtual platforms, clients receive housing counseling relevant to renting, including rent subsidies from HUD or other government and assistance programs. Topics can also address issues and concerns having to do with fair housing, landlord and tenant laws, lease terms, rent delinquency, household budgeting, and finding alternate housing.
DRS also offers the following services:
  • A Debt Management Program (DMP) for consumers struggling to pay their credit cards, collections, medical debts, personal loans, old utility bills, and past-due cell phone accounts;
  • The Budget Briefing and Debtor Education Certificates that are required during the Bankruptcy filing process;
  • A Student Loan Repayment Plan Counseling and application service.

Relationships with Industry Partners

Through such services, DRS has established financial relationships with hundreds of banks, credit unions, and creditors such as American Express, Bank of America, Barclays, Capital One, Chase, Citibank, Credit One, Discover, Synchrony, US Bank, USAA, Wells Fargo, and others.

No Client Obligation

The client is not obligated to receive, purchase or utilize any other services offered by DRS or its exclusive partners to receive financial education or housing counseling services. Alternatives: As a condition of our counseling services, in alignment with meeting our client services goals, and in compliance with HUD’s Housing Counseling Program requirements, we may provide information on alternative services, programs, and products available to you, if applicable and known by our staff. Alternative DMP services include negotiating better repayment terms directly with your individual creditors, paying your debts as agreed, or, in extreme cases, filing for personal bankruptcy. Alternative credit and education services can be found through MyMoney.gov or the Jump$tart Clearinghouse of online financial education resources. Housing counseling alternatives can be found through HUD at www.hud.gov/findacounselor.
Finally, you understand that you may revoke consent to these disclosures by notifying DRS in writing.

Housing Counseling and Education Fee Schedule

 

Online Education Program Fees*

Homebuyer Education Course: $59 per participant

  • Self-paced course available here, our online housing counseling and education center. Certificates will be automatically generated upon completion of the course (approximately 6-8 hours)

RentalFair HousingPredatory Lending / HOEPAPost-Purchase (Non-delinquency post-purchase workshop, including home maintenance and/or financial management for homeowners) Online Workshops: $49 per participant

  • Approximately 1 hour each

Other Self-Guided Financial Literacy Webinars (e.g. creditbudgetinghomeless preventiondebt prevention): $0

One-on-one Counseling Fees*

Pre-purchase Homebuying Counseling, Rental Counseling, Post-purchase Ownership Maintenance and Financial Management: $75

  • Session by the hour

Reverse Mortgage/HECM Counseling with Required Certificate:

  • $200†

Credit Report Fee: Paid Directly by Client

*Fees for all but our online education courses and workshops can be paid online by debit card, credit card, or PayPal or in person by cash, check or money order to: “Debt Reduction Services, Inc.” Registration fees are non-refundable 24 hours or less before the start of an in-person course or workshop. Certificates are non-transferable

*Fees may be waived for households with income of 150% or less of that identified on the US Department of Health and Human Services Poverty Guidelines Page

†Home visit counseling is available in 30 southern Idaho counties for potential HECM borrowers at additional costs to cover our travel (IRS reimbursement rates apply) and staff time ($50 per hour or fraction there).

Housing Counseling and Education Fee Schedule

 

Online Education Program Fees*

Homebuyer Education Course: $59 per participant

  • Self-paced course available here, our online housing counseling and education center. Certificates will be automatically generated upon completion of the course (approximately 6-8 hours)

RentalFair HousingPredatory Lending / HOEPAPost-Purchase (Non-delinquency post-purchase workshop, including home maintenance and/or financial management for homeowners) Online Workshops: $49 per participant

  • Approximately 1 hour each

Other Self-Guided Financial Literacy Webinars (e.g. creditbudgetinghomeless preventiondebt prevention): $0

One-on-one Counseling Fees*

Pre-purchase Homebuying Counseling, Rental Counseling, Post-purchase Ownership Maintenance and Financial Management: $75

  • Session by the hour

Reverse Mortgage/HECM Counseling with Required Certificate:

  • $200†

Credit Report Fee: Paid Directly by Client

*Fees for all but our online education courses and workshops can be paid online by debit card, credit card, or PayPal or in person by cash, check or money order to: “Debt Reduction Services, Inc.” Registration fees are non-refundable 24 hours or less before the start of an in-person course or workshop. Certificates are non-transferable

*Fees may be waived for households with income of 150% or less of that identified on the US Department of Health and Human Services Poverty Guidelines Page

†Home visit counseling is available in 30 southern Idaho counties for potential HECM borrowers at additional costs to cover our travel (IRS reimbursement rates apply) and staff time ($50 per hour or fraction there).