Mission: The organization specializes in providing education and counseling services to individuals and groups who are concerned about their financial situation. If appropriate, the organization also helps individuals establish affordable and convenient debt management plans to help them repay their debts in a timely manner. As a hud-approved housing counseling agency, the organization also provides pre- and post-purchase counseling, rental and reverse mortgage counseling, and foreclosure intervention and default counseling.
Programs: Individualized educational financial counseling cambridges tax-exempt status is based on the provision of financial education to the public. The organizations primary method of fulfilling this exempt purpose was accomplished through the provision of 27,574 individual educational financial counseling sessions. Cambridge provides financial counseling, education and debt management programs to individuals in 47 states. Every individual who requests assistance from the organization is given the opportunity to participate in a comprehensive evaluation of his or her financial circumstances, conducted by one of the organizations thirty-two independently certified credit counselors. Cambridges counselors are certified by the association for financial counseling and planning education, or by the partnership for financial education. Both organizations certification programs have been reviewed and approved by the association of independent consumer credit counseling agencies, by the association of credit counseling professionals, and by those states that require approval of counselor certification programs. Cambridges financial analysis is aimed at identifying the best course of action for each individual, and it allows the cambridge counselor to provide education and budgeting information appropriate to each persons circumstances. This assessment, which is performed at no cost and without obligation, is based on statutory requirements for identifying an individuals current financial condition, and, when necessary, appropriate techniques are used to discover the factors and behaviors that may be contributing to the individuals circumstances. To help ensure that all debts are discussed and to verify the accuracy of the account information provided, cambridge has established an arrangement with trans union that allows cambridge counselors to review each individuals credit report at no cost to the individual. On the basis of the information developed during the counseling session and through documentation of income and expenses, an appropriate action plan will be created and provided to the assessed individual. If a financial assessment indicates that the consumer would not reasonably be able to alleviate his or her debt without significant creditor concessions, cambridge will offer the option of enrolling in its educational debt management plan (dmp) program to help the individual establish an affordable and convenient plan to repay his or her current debts in a timely manner. If, on the other hand, creditor concessions are unlikely or unnecessary under the assessed individuals circumstances, the counselor will advise the individual of any other appropriate steps that he or she may take to address his or her financial condition. Regardless of the individuals enrollment, however, all consumers are encouraged to participate in post-counseling sessions with cambridge counselors, and are also provided with the most current editions of cambridges free financial management guides and dvd, which the public may also access on cambridges websites, www. Cambridgecredit. Org and www. Goodpayer. Com. In 2014, cambridge provided 27,574 individual counseling sessions. Of the roughly 20,187 individuals who contacted the agency for the first time in 2014, 4,025 (approximately 19. 9%) enrolled in cambridges debt management program (dmp). For these individuals, dmp enrollment is only one aspect of cambridges educational counseling program. As the consumer federation of america, american express, and the georgetown university credit research center noted in a joint 2006 report entitled evaluating the effects of credit counseling,(the cfa report) effective debt management plans must contain a meaningful educational component. The effect of this education was evidenced by significantly improved credit profiles and a reduced risk of bankruptcy filing, which the report attributed to the dmp experience itself, e. G. , budgeting to make regular dmp payments, continued interaction with and reinforcement from the counseling agency. Cambridges policy of providing extensive post- counseling follow-up sessions to all consumers who receive a financial assessment and budget review is consistent with the conclusions of the cfa report: participation in a debt management plan provides an educational benefit for the individual, particularly when contact with the counselor is extended throughout the period of enrollment. Furthermore, the data presented in cambridges transparency reports supports this approach. Clients who actively participate in post-counseling sessions are more likely to adopt healthier budgeting practices and to begin saving money. Although a dmp can be instrumental in helping individuals become debt-free in a five-year timeframe, enrollment alone does not prevent individuals from reverting to previous behaviors, attitudes and spending patterns that resulted in the need to contact a counseling agency. For this reason, cambridges counselors provide three post-counseling sessions within an individuals first 90 days of enrollment, and then again every six months thereafter to offer additional counseling. The first three post-counseling sessions are designed to help build a productive and trusting relationship with the client, and to help them recognize that cambridge intends to extend its educational efforts beyond the initial counseling period. Counseling sessions are held with each new client after the third, seventh, and eleventh week of enrollment to determine whether or not the individual has begun to follow his or her action plan, to offer encouragement and advice to help them take the steps that have been recommended, and to offer additional counseling for any issues that may not have been introduced previously. After these initial post-counseling sessions, each participant will receive a financial checkup from his or her counselor every six months for the duration of their enrollment in the program. In addition to addressing the participants particular issues, these follow-up calls continue building the participants financial skills by emphasizing the need to create and follow working budgets, to record all expenses, to implement appropriate savings plans, and to develop realistic short- and long-term financial goals. In addition, within 45 days of the initial request for assistance, cambridge counselors also contact each individual whose financial assessment indicates that dmp enrollment would either not be necessary or for whom creditors would be unlikely to grant meaningful concessions. This is done to verify that the individual has received all of the free educational materials provided by cambridge and, more important, that the individual has begun to utilize the tools and advice that his or her counselor provided in the individuals action plan. The consumer is encouraged to access the companys educational websites and to continue to use his or her counselor as a financial education resource, at no cost or obligation. The impact of cambridges post-counseling program has been significant. Cambridges most recent statistics indicate that more than 87. 6% of new program participants have begun to track expenses and develop new budgets by their fourth month of enrollment, taking the first steps toward re-establishing a positive payment history. This often represents a remarkable accomplishment for these individuals, whose credit reports show evidence that their record of inconsistent payments resulted in the higher interest rates and late fees that compounded their financial difficulties. Perhaps even more indicative of the results of cambridges post-counseling program are the survey responses gathered through iota solutions, a third party, which indicate that 89. 1% of long-term program participants continue to track their expenses, while 75. 4% review their budgets every six months. In 2014, cambridges counselors conducted 1,532 one-on-one post-counseling sessions for individuals already enrolled in the cambridge dmp program. While these services are very beneficial to individuals who decide to enroll in the program, cambridge has also developed educational tools and programs for individuals who do not enroll in the cambridge dmp program. In 2014, cambridge provided sessions for 16,162 individuals who did not enroll in the cambridge dmp program. These individuals were among the 74,160 individuals who received copies of free educational materials from cambridge, including: guidebooks, dvds, relevant articles about personal finance, and links to the agency's educational videos.
financial literacy education cambridge offers no-cost financial management education to individuals in a number of different ways. Cambridge provides outreach programs to members of its local community, including a number of non-profit social service agencies. Cambridge also offers financial management seminars and lesson plans to colleges and high schools, both locally and nationally. In addition, cambridge provides a number of free online resources, including financial calculators, videos, guidebooks, informational articles, and budgeting tools. Finally, and perhaps most important, cambridge provides comprehensive one-on-one financial assessments and counseling to any individual interested in improving his or her understanding of sound credit and debt management principles. The results of cambridges financial assessments indicate that 15-20% of participants would be incapable of alleviating their own debt in less than five years without significant creditor concessions. Cambridge believes that, of the remaining 80-85% of individuals who have problems with money management and debt, the majority lack a basic understanding of the fundamentals of personal finance, a subject that, unfortunately, is rarely taught in americas classrooms. In fact, while 19 states require high school students to take a course in personal finance, only 6 mandate testing on the topic prior to graduation. While young adults have been targeted by credit card issuers, few have the proper education, resources or tools to make informed decisions and establish responsible credit practices. It should come as little surprise then that many young adults need some form of financial assistance five, ten or twenty years down the road. Studies by the gao and the boston bar associations task force on financial literacy each confirm that young people in the post-college years are filing for bankruptcy at an alarming rate, the result of receiving too much credit, too soon, and with too little guidance on how to use it. Cambridge is committed to changing this trend, and to improving the lives of americans by providing the education they need. In its local community, cambridge provides free financial literacy education and counseling to veterans receiving services through hud's vash program, to inmates and former prisoners through programs delivered through the hampden county sheriff's department, and to senior citizens receiving assistance from greater springfield senior services. Cambridges education department staff continues to provide educational materials and classroom speakers for the westover job corps, the largest vocational training program for young people in massachusetts. Cambridge also conducts seminars for several local colleges, including one program specifically designed for low-income, first-generation college students at springfield technical community college. In 2014, the cambridge education department presented 474 free financial seminars to 4,626 participants throughout massachusetts and connecticut. Cambridge also expanded the number and variety of free educational content that the agency places on the internet. In 2014, cambridge added 14 new educational videos to the 239 videos already available online at www. Youtube. Com/cambridgecredit. Cambridges 253 videos were viewed a total of 29,712 times in 2014.
housing counseling - in 2010, after a comprehensive application and on-site examination process, cambridge became a hud-approved housing counseling agency. Nearly half of cambridge's counselors now hold one or more neighborworks certifications in foreclosure prevention counseling, pre- and post-purchase counseling, rental, and reverse mortgage counseling. The vast majority of these services are provided for free to the public. (cambridge's reverse mortgage counseling fee of $125 is in keeping with hud guidelines but can be waived, and participants in cambridge's eight-hour pre-purchase class pay a nominal fee of $50 for materials. ) cambridge's reverse mortgage counseling program has also been approved by the massachusetts executive office of elder affairs. In 2014, cambridge provided 560 free one-on-one foreclosure prevention counseling sessions. 252 prospective homebuyers attended cambridges pre-purchase classes. Seven participants subsequently received free educational financial counseling from the agency. During the year, cambridge also conducted 4,851 reverse mortgage counseling sessions, 1,101 of which were provided free of charge. Bankruptcy counseling - in the fall of 2011, following another round of applications and examination, cambridge received approval from the executive office for united states trustees to provide credit counseling and debtor education services to financially troubled consumers who are considering bankruptcy or who are awaiting the discharge of their debt. In 2014, cambridge conducted pre-filing credit counseling sessions for 240 individuals and provided pre-discharge debtor education courses to 178 individuals.