Homebuyer Education and Counseling Requirements

All homebuyers accessing the Downpayment Plus Program (DPP®) or Downpayment Plus Advantage® Program (DPP Advantage®) are required to complete both pre-purchase homebuyer education and pre-purchase counseling.

Pre-purchase education and counseling requirements include:

  • Education must be delivered by a provider that has adopted the education component of the National Industry Standards for Homeownership Education and Counseling (NIS) or by an online provider approved by the FHLBank Chicago.
  • Counseling must be delivered by a provider that has adopted the counseling component of the NIS.
  • Counseling must be completed one-on-one, but does not have to be face-to-face; telephonic or videoconference (e.g., FaceTime, Skype) counseling is acceptable.
  • Upon completion of education and counseling, homebuyers will receive one or two certificates of completion (depending on the provider), which must be submitted prior to a member receiving reimbursement for a DPP grant.
  • Although participation in education and counseling is strongly encouraged for all borrowers in the household, a certificate of completion is only required for one of the borrowers. 

There are three main pathways homebuyers may follow to meet the pre-purchase education and counseling requirement. These pathways are the surest way homebuyers and participating members know the education and counseling meets our requirements. 

To access an option, select the corresponding image below. 

Pathway One: A Local NIS Provider

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The NIS are a set of guidelines for quality homeownership education and counseling services. Homebuyers seeking a traditional face-to-face experience may find a provider in their community that has adopted the education and counseling components of the NIS using their online search engine. This is the preferred option for homebuyers with in-depth counseling needs. 

Homebuyers should inquire about the costs of these services prior to receiving them.

Pathway Two: eHome America (approved online provider)

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eHome America is one of two online homebuyer education providers approved by the FHLBank Chicago. Homebuyers may complete online education through eHome followed by face-to-face, telephonic, or videoconference counseling from an eHome partner/NIS adopter. Because the counseling does not need to be provided face-to-face, the location of the provider should not be a barrier or deterrent for the homebuyer. eHome America partners are expected to contact the homebuyer within 48 hours of completing the education component to schedule the counseling session. The certificate of completion will not be released until the homebuyer completes counseling so please plan accordingly. 

The cost for education is $99 if accessed through this webpage; an additional counseling fee may apply. Please note there are fewer counseling agencies from which to select if pursuing this pathway.

Pathway Three: Framework (approved online provider)

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Framework is one of two online homebuyer education providers approved by the FHLBank Chicago. Homebuyers may complete online education through Framework followed by face-to-face, telephonic, or videoconference counseling from a Framework partner/NIS adopter. Because the counseling does not need to be provided face-to-face, the location of the provider should not be a barrier or deterrent for the homebuyer. Upon completing education, homebuyers must schedule counseling with the selected Framework partner/NIS adopter; the agency is expected to respond within 48 hours. The certificate of completion will not be released until the homebuyer completes counseling so please plan accordingly. 

The cost for education is $75 if accessed through this webpage; an additional counseling fee may apply. Please note there are fewer counseling agencies from which to select if pursuing this pathway.

Alternative options

These pathways were designed to provide flexibility and consumer choice in meeting the requirement; however, they are not the only three pathways available. A homebuyer may complete online education directly through eHome America or Framework (i.e., not via the links on this webpage) or through a portal provided by an eHome or Framework partner, and complete counseling through a provider that has adopted the counseling component of the NIS. In these instances, the cost(s) will vary.

FHLBank Chicago members may wish to explore a referral relationship with one or more NIS adopters; benefits could include an upfront understanding of the fee structure, understanding the capacity of the provider, and establishing mutual expectations.

Up to $700 of the DPP grant may be applied toward costs associated with meeting the pre-purchase education and counseling requirement. Additionally, any money the homebuyer spends on meeting the requirement may be applied toward their "homebuyer contribution" (so long as it's properly disclosed on the settlement statement), meaning it can be matched 3:1 (up to the maximum allowable DPP grant). 

Additional information

These requirements are designed to prepare consumers to successfully navigate the homebuying process. In selecting a pathway, it is important to also consider the pre-purchase education and counseling requirements, if any, of the first mortgage lender and/or secondary purchaser.