GAO Report Highlights the Institute for Financial Literacy’s Accreditation and Certification Programs

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Affirming the important role financial literacy plays in ensuring the financial health and stability of individuals and families, the government study underscores the benefits of financial literacy education accreditation.

In response to a mandate in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently issued a report that addresses the known methods and strategies for providing effective financial literacy education and the feasibility of establishing a federal accreditation program for financial education and counseling organizations. The Institute for Financial Literacy is the only organization that certifies financial counselors and educators and accredits organizations that provide financial literacy education that is cited by name in the report.

“Accreditation is a critically important but often overlooked component to ensuring the quality and effectiveness of financial literacy programs,” said Leslie E. Linfield, Executive Director and Founder of the Institute for Financial Literacy. “Consumers, grant-makers, regulators and other stakeholders are beginning to demand more accountability and a results-driven approach to their investment of time and money.”

Since its founding in 2002, the Institute for Financial Literacy has been at the forefront of advancing professionalism and effectiveness in the field of financial literacy. The Institute wrote the National Standards for Adult Financial Literacy Education (published in 2004, revised in 2007) and has developed industry-leading accreditation and certification programs, among other initiatives.

Linfield added, “There are over 1,000 financial literacy education curricula in the United States today, most of which have not been evaluated for effectiveness. Millions of dollars are spent each year on education of potentially questionable value, with little regard to the needs of the audience and no follow-up to assess program success.”

To fill this void, the Institute established the Council on Financial Education Accreditation in 2010. The Council on Financial Education Accreditation promotes effective financial literacy education through the establishment of business and financial education standards and the accreditation of organizations under those standards. The Council’s standards provide a reliable, consistent framework with which financial educators can measure their effectiveness, gather feedback and apply measurements to continuously improve the quality and success of their financial literacy efforts. To learn more about the Council’s accreditation program for organizations, visit http://www.cfea.org.

Also referenced in the GAO report is the Institute’s Center for Financial Certifications. The Center for Financial Certifications was established in 2006 to provide professional development and certification for individuals in the fields of financial counseling and education. Currently, the Center administers five professional certification programs: Certified Personal Finance Counselor® (CPFC®), Certified Educator in Personal Finance® (CEPF®), Certified Residential Housing Counselorsm (CRHCsm), Certified Consumer Debt Specialistsm (CCDSsm) and Certified Consumer Receivables Counselorsm (CCRCsm). For more information on the Center’s certification programs for individuals, visit http://www.fincert.org.

A copy of the full GAO report is available for download at: http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d11614.pdf.

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About the Institute for Financial Literacy
The Institute for Financial Literacy is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization whose mission is to make effective financial literacy education available for everyone. As a national authority on adult financial education, the Institute advances professionalism and effectiveness in the field of financial literacy by setting the National Standards for Adult Financial Literacy Education™, hosting the Annual Conference on Financial Education™, maintaining the Library of Personal Finance™, and administering the Center for Financial Certifications®, Center for Consumer Financial Research™, and Council on Financial Education Accreditation. For more information about the Institute, visit http://www.financiallit.org or call 207-879-0389.

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