If you have a security clearance and have run into financial difficulties, it’s only natural to be concerned about personnel security officials getting wind of the problems. Unfortunately, between more clearly defined self-reporting obligations under Security Executive Agent Directive (SEAD)-3 and the government’s new Continuous Evaluation (CE) program, the odds that they will get wind of those problems before you’ve had a chance to clean them up have increased significantly in recent years.

No matter how extensive the financial problems, one of the most overlooked mitigating factors available to security clearance holders – and perhaps the cheapest and easiest one to satisfy – is the completion of a financial education course. Financial education courses that will typically satisfy security officials include those that offer instruction on “money management”, “financial literacy”, budgeting, or “financial recovery”, to name a few of the more common descriptors. The keys are that the class should be sponsored by a reputable provider and afford a sufficient depth and breadth of instruction to demonstrate that the clearance holder is taking the matter seriously and obtaining the education necessary to help avoid recurrent financial trouble.

To be clear, the financial education “class” required as part of bankruptcy proceedings isn’t generally going to be sufficient. Not only is the course not taken voluntarily, but it’s also viewed by many in the personnel security field as a perfunctory joke. What will generally make a favorable impression is a financial education course sponsored by a government agency or those offered by an accredited institution of higher learning, such as a community college.

Over the years, a number of my clients have expressed to me their pleasant surprise at the quality of education they received from their local community college, the ease in signing up for a financial literacy class, and the affordability of the tuition (“dirt cheap” is how I recall one client in the D.C. area describing it).  Costs vary from institution to institution, but we’ve previously seen very good financial education classes ranging from free (government agency-sponsored) to a few hundred bucks or less (community colleges) – including required books and materials.

With security clearance and career both potentially on the line, that is an investment even the most cash-strapped clearance holder ought to consider making. For those considering signing up for such a class, here are a few good places to start:

Institution:                                                                         Financial Education Course Offered:

Northern Virginia Community College                           FIN-107 (Personal Finance)

Montgomery (Maryland) College                                   BSAD-111 (Personal Finance)

Los Angeles City College                                                  Personal Finance – Online

Note that these course numbers and the online course available above are current as of this writing; however, they may be subject to change. Contact your local community college registrar’s office for the most up-to-date course catalog.

 

This article is intended as general information only and should not be construed as legal advice. Consult an attorney regarding your specific situation. 

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Security Clearance Attorney Sean M. Bigley represents clients worldwide in security clearance denials and revocations. He is a former investigator for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. For more information, please visit www.bigleylaw.com