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Cambridge Credit Counseling Corp

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Financial Counseling, Human Services

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. The organization has also been approved by the executive office for u. S. Trustees to provide pre-filing credit counseling and pre-discharge debtor education to consumers filing for bankruptcy protection.

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 36,908 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 forty-two independently certified credit counselors. Cambridges counselors are certified by the partnership for financial education, whose certification program has been reviewed and approved by the financial counseling association of america 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, allowing 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 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) 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 they are also provided with the most current editions of cambridges free financial management guides, which the public may also access for free on cambridges website, www. Cambridgecredit. Org. In 2017, cambridge provided 36,908 individual counseling sessions. Of the roughly 22,291 individuals who contacted the agency for the first time, 4,731 (approximately 21. 2%) enrolled in cambridges debt management program. 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 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. The data collected through client surveys supports this approach. Clients who actively participate in post-counseling sessions are more likely to have adopted healthier budgeting practices and to have begun saving money. Although a dmp can be instrumental in helping people become debt-free in five years or less, enrollment alone does not prevent them 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 the agency contacts the client 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. 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 86% 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, an unaffiliated third party, which indicate that 87. 6% of long-term program participants continue to track their expenses, while 77% review their budgets every six months. 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 2017, cambridge provided sessions for 17,560 individuals who did not enroll in cambridge's dmp program. These individuals were among the more than 90,000 individuals who received or downloaded copies of free educational materials from cambridge, including guidebooks, 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 significant 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 local veteran services offices and through hud's vash program. The agency's staff also conducts a financial literacy seminar series to inmates and former prisoners through re-entry programs delivered through the hampden county sheriff's department, and to volunteers working with senior citizens through programs provided by 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 provides financial literacy and/or student loan education to several local colleges, and we co-produce six major credit for life fairs for area high school students. In 2017, the cambridge's education department presented 436 free financial seminars to 7,716 participants throughout massachusetts and connecticut. Cambridge also provided a wide variety of free educational video content on the internet. In 2017, cambridge's 265 videos were viewed a total of 37,1343 times.

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 2017, cambridge provided 202 free one-on-one foreclosure prevention counseling sessions. 308 prospective homebuyers attended cambridges pre-purchase classes. Sixty participants subsequently received free follow-up housing counseling sessions from the agency. During the year, cambridge also conducted 6,013 reverse mortgage counseling sessions, 492 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 2017, cambridge conducted pre-filing credit counseling sessions for 83 individuals and provided pre-discharge debtor education courses to 31 individuals.

Community Stories

4 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters


Client Served

Rating: 5

If you are a small business owner, please learn from our mistake. NEVER use credit cards to pay off business debts, especially not payroll. We did not scale back fast enough and ended up saddled with $60,000 in unsecured debt, mostly credit cards, yuck. We went on the Cambridge plan and paid until it was paid off. BEST decision EVER!!! I will never allow us to have credit card debt again, EVER. AMEX is is VERY good idea. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Start now and by this time next year you will be part of the way done. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!

Client Served

Rating: 5

I was badly in debt. Cambridge CC set up a payment plan that was affordable to me by contacting creditors and reducing interest rates, ongoing penalty fees and other fees that just keep you spiraling downward in debt. Some months it was tough but over the course of the plan CCC arranged for me, my debts were paid off and I have been able to get a fresh start. The program not only enabled me to pay my debts but to also learn how to better manage my personal finances. It is a very good feeling to know that my debts are paid and I can manage monthly without drowning in credit card bills. Mine took about 44 months to complete and I was often tempted to just give up. Thanks to the counselers for working with me and helping me to get back on my feet finacially!

Client Served

Rating: 5

I had owed about $30,000 plus in credit card bills. Cambridge taught me to try to get to where I did not depend on credit cards and budget what I had coming in. It was tough and at the same time I was freaking out because my child was looking into college at the same time. It actually was good because being on a budget made me more fierce on locating scholarships. So to date my child is about done with college @ a private University and only owes less than the cost of a year admission amount when graduates. The $30,000 plus is paid and my family is so used to the budget it comes natural now to watch how we spend our money and try to get the most out of our money. I remember my big concern at the beggining was my credit. I had no problem getting a loan being with Cambridge and my credit is excellent. Thank you Cambridge! Your awesome!

Client Served

Rating: 5

Cambridge Credit helped me out of debt. I had about 10 credit cards or debt related items that were all taken care of by Cambridge. They also charged the very least amount of any of similar debt related companies. I was very happy with my results and now have no debt or credit cards. They also gave me great advice on paying the highest interest cards off immediately. They were great.

Review from Guidestar