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counseling, financial distress, foreclosure, credit cards, bias, student loans


Financial counseling plays an important role for low- and moderate-income Americans and deserves more attention from leaders in the field. As financial counseling has evolved, the providers have been challenged to find a model that is both borrower centered and sustainable. This article provides a diagnosis of the failures and challenges in the financial counseling field, as well as a discussion of steps through which the providers could optimally serve families in need. These steps include (a) enhanced funding of the industry as a result of a recognition by financial stakeholders that it would be beneficial for them if the counseling industry was markedly improved; (b) stronger training for counselors; (c) implementation of enhanced measurement tools so that both funders and consumer borrowers could choose their providers from an informed position; and (d) assertion of leadership by consumer advocates and the Consumer Financial Products Bureau in improving this industry.