Rural Housing Service September 23, 2013 – Federal Register Recent Federal Regulation Documents

Notice of Intent To Review Online Homeownership Education Courses for Nationwide Use in the Single Family Housing Section 502 Direct Loan Program
Document Number: 2013-23032
Type: Notice
Date: 2013-09-23
Agency: Department of Agriculture, Rural Housing Service
Effective on May 7, 2007, first-time homebuyers financed under the direct loan program must successfully complete an approved homeownership education course prior to loan closing. 7 CFR Part 3550.11 outlines the order of preference given to courses. First preference is given to classroom, one-on-one counseling, or interactive video conference. These formats are generally extensive and require a significant time and participation commitment from the Agency applicants. Second preference is given to interactive home-study or interactive telephone counseling of at least four hours duration. These formats may only be used if the formats under the first preference are not reasonably available. Third preference, which can only be used if all other formats are not reasonably available, is given to online counseling. It also outlines the requirements an education provider and their course must meet in order to be approved for use by Agency applicants. While approval is generally made by the Agency at the state level, there is currently one nationally approved online education provider. To expand the Agency applicants' access to and options of approved education providers, the Agency will consider approving other online education providers on a national level. Approval will be subject to meeting course criteria, a recommendation by the Agency-selected panel of housing partners, and signoff by the Administrator. Approval will be given as a third preference format unless the education provider is able to demonstrate and document how their online course along with a required supplemented service provides the same level of training and individualized attention as a first or second preference. A notice of education providers approved through this process will be issued via a memorandum to the Rural Development (RD) state offices. The memorandum will list the format preference assigned to each provider. A copy of the memorandum will be simultaneously emailed to all education providers who applied through this notice. Approvals are not subject to expiration. However, an approval may be revoked for justifiable cause.