Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Pittsburgh Financial Empowerment Center? The Pittsburgh Financial Empowerment Center (FEC) is a partnership between the City of Pittsburgh, the non-profit Neighborhood Allies, and Advantage Credit Counseling to provide free, professional one-on-one financial counseling.
Who is eligible for counseling from the FEC? The FEC is for everyone. There is no income nor asset test. FEC counselors can help with topics ranging from personal finances to business finances. If you need accessibility accommodations, please let us know in advance of the appointment.
How much does this service cost? FEC counseling is always free. This includes services like pulling credit reports and scores.

What can a counselor help me with? FEC counselors can help you with a range of topics from personal finance to business finances. Counselors help clients better manage their money, improve their credit score, pay down debt, increase savings, establish and build credit, and provide access to safe and affordable banking products. Counselors can also help to create a customized plan to address student loans, buy a house, build financial goals for your business, or start an emergency fund.
How long are counselling sessions? Counseling sessions can range from 30 - 60 minutes. Your initial session may be on the longer side in order for your counselor to fully understand your financial situation.
How can I ask a quick question to a counselor? If you have a question that wouldn’t require a full appointment, you can schedule a short call to connect with your FEC counselor.
What can I expect from my first counseling session? Your first session is the longest (60-90 minutes) due to us getting to understand your financial situation. We go through a Financial Health Assessment, fill out an initial Money Tracker, pull your credit report, figure out your initial goals for counseling, and create a service plan.
Where can I schedule an appointment with a counselor? New Clients Returning Clients
What should I bring to my initial counseling session? You are not required to bring any documentation for the first session. However, documents such as pay stubs, account statements, bills, and other financial documents could be helpful in developing a budget and understanding debt and credit issues.
How many times can I meet with a counselor? You can meet with counselors as many times as needed. There is typically a one-month period between appointments, but this timeline is based on your needs.
Can you help me with my taxes? No, but we can help you find a certified professional to assist you with tax questions.
Do you offer financial assistance? No, but we can help you find financial assistance and programs you may be eligible for.
What is the difference between financial advising and financial counselling? We can help you think through how to save for retirement, but can’t help you on what funds or types of funds to invest your money in.
What languages fo you offer? We offer services in multiple languages with interpretation by phone and ASL interpretation in-person/teleconference. If you’re interested in conducting a session in a language other than English, please let us know when you book your appointment.

Are counselors certified or trained? Counselors are trained and certified through the Cities for Financial Empowerment (CFE) Fund curriculum and the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC). They are required to complete the training course and pass the certification exams.
Is any of my personal financial information collected by FEC counselors? FEC counselors do not access nor collect your financial information. FEC counselors only have the financial information you provide to them. (i.e, we do not ask for bank account information, only that you bring us documents.)
Will counselors come to my home and do sessions? Counseling sessions are done at each of our sites or virtually. Counselors can conduct phone or video sessions if we are able to collect signatures on the disclosures before the initial session.