How financial and housing educational programs help consumers

Michigan State University Extension has an important role to play in addressing issues of financial health of individuals and families through community-based educational programs.

Michigan families continue to struggle with income and debt issues. Unemployment numbers are lower than they have been since before the Great Recession of 2008. However, wages continue to lag and people still struggle to save money. Home values have gone up, but not in every county and there is a lack of affordable housing due to increase in demand for rentals. Medical insurance premiums have continued to increase while energy costs have continued to stay low.  

MSU Extension has an important role to play in addressing issues of financial health of individuals and families through community-based educational programs. The overarching goal of these efforts is for Michigan consumers to become aware of their personal financial profile, to adopt sound financial and housing practices including managing spending and savings plan and utilizing financial products and services in a beneficial manner.

Financial Education:

Whether it’s handling credit card debt, investing for retirement or college funds or simply wishing to have more control over personal finances, MSU Extension has expert educators that help Michigan residents in all aspects of money management. They assist individuals and households to become more sustainable spenders through education focused on financial capability. MI Money Health is a website that provides Michigan residents with access to non-commercial, easily accessible and reliable personal financial information.

During 2017, MSU Extension reached 665 adults in 45 Michigan counties with 6-hour educational programs on managing personal and household finances. The average age of participants was 37 years and 62% were women. Annual income was less than $18,000 for 62% of the participants. Pre and post surveys revealed participants improved and maintained knowledge on ten learning objectives and behavioral indicators of program outcomes. As a result of the program (n=430):

    • 81% pay bills on time
    • 81% keep track of spending and income
    • 76% review all credit card bills and financial statements
    • 76% save money regularly
    • 70% make choices today that will make retirement a reality
    • 69% pay down debt or pay off new credit card charges each month
    • 66% write out a spending plan
    • 66% write SMART financial goals
    • 63% obtain a housing payment that fits within a budget

Homeownership Education:

The MSU Extension Homeownership Education course assists homebuyers with up to six hours of education on these topics:

  • Advantages of homeownership and steps in the home-buying process
  • Understanding costs of homeownership and how to maintain the investment
  • Mortgage loan basics and why good credit is important
  • How to determine how much house can be afforded

Participants can earn a certificate of completion that is a requirement for Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) and some other down payment assistance programs.

eHome is the online version of the Homeownership Education course. The program takes six to eight hours to complete. The materials are comprehensive, unbiased and consumer-oriented, with an emphasis on looking out for the homebuyer’s best interests. Additional help and advice is available from MSU Extension certified Housing Counselors.

During 2017, MSU Extension reached nearly 1,100 adults in 37 Michigan counties with Homeownership Education. Employment status showed 83% working either part or full-time. Most (76%) rented their current residence or lived with family (20%). Pre and post-program evaluations revealed participants improved knowledge and skills. As a result of this program (n=934):

    • 91% are making changes to improve credit report and score
    • 90% save money for home ownership
    • 90% can calculate reasonable monthly housing costs based on a budget
    • 84% pay mortgage on time every month
    • 84% now understand predatory lending practices
    • 81% set aside funds for home maintenance costs
    • 80% can identify down payment and closing requirements of loans
    • 72% will shop around for the best home insurance coverage

Foreclosure:

Team members also deliver foreclosure prevention and intervention education and counseling. They are MSHDA and Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) certified housing counselors. These counselors work directly with Michigan residents, providing one-on-one information and alternative options to foreclosure.

During 2017, 298 participants from 242 total households in 17 Michigan counties were assisted with mortgage and property tax delinquency and default counseling. Data show that 79% of households had an annual income of less than $30,000, 43% of participants lived alone and most were female.

Some homeowners were still actively working with counselors or had withdrawn from counseling. The following results are from the remaining households that continued receiving counseling services and have achieved housing outcomes (n=140): Ninety-eight percent of the households achieving housing counseling (n=136) were able to keep their current home. Of that total,

    • 17% were able to bring their mortgage current
    • 2% entered forbearance agreements with their mortgage company
    • 7% modified or refinanced their mortgage into an affordable payment
    • 35% received Step Forward Michigan funds to bring their mortgage or property taxes current
    • 29% of the households initiated a repayment plan to begin to pay back their mortgage and/or owed property tax

The Financial and Homeownership Education team delivered impactful programs to many Michigan residents and homeowners in 2017. Find more information, local and online Events at MIMoneyHealth.org.

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