Every Mortgage Loan Originator licensed in the United States must complete Pre-License Education in order to obtain a license and Continuing Education each year in order to renew the license. There is a federal mandate that each state require at least 20 hours of Pre-License Education and at least 8 hours of Continuing Education each year after the license is approved. And many states have decided to require additional "state-specific" Pre-License and Continuing Education on top of the federal mandated minimum requirement. If a Loan Originator obtains licenses in many states, there could be a lot of Continuing Education required each year, which brings us to our main topic. How do you choose a Mortgage License Education Course Provider that can make this process as simple and painless as possible?
Availability of Courses - Each Mortgage License Education Course Provider must get their courses approved through the NMLS (Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System). Some Course Providers only get the main 20 hour Pre-License Education and 8 hour Continuing Education, so if you are licensed in any states that require state-specific education, you'll have to do that part with another Course Provider. Most Course Providers only get some of the state-specific education approved for the larger states, because it is very time consuming to get approved and maintain if they don't have enough customers taking the courses. Very few Course Providers get the state-specific Mortgage License Education Courses approved by the NMLS in every state that requires it. If licensed in many states, it is best to find one of these few Course Providers that offer all courses.
Course Formats - The Course Providers are able to provide Pre-License Education in 3 formats: Classroom, Webinar, and Online Instructor-Led. Classroom is a live course in-person. Webinar is a live course via a webinar online. And Online Instructor-Led, which is by far the most popular, is an online course at your own pace with a small amount of instructor involvement to meet the NMLS requirement that there be interaction between the student and the instructor. Due to the instructor interaction, the Online Instructor-Led courses must be done within a certain window of time. Usually 2 days for a few hour course up to 12 days for a 20 hour course. For the Continuing Education, Course Providers are able to offer all of the same course formats as the Pre-License Education plus an Online Self-Study format. The Online Self-Study format is virtually identical to the Online Instructor-Led format, except that there is no window of time that the course must be completed in and there is no instructor interaction. For most people, the Online Self-Study format would be the best option for the Continuing Education. Not all Course Providers offer all Course Formats, so you will want to find a Course Provider that offers the formats you prefer.
Technology Platforms - Specifically for the most popular Course Formats, Online Instructor-Led for the Pre-License Education and Online Self-Study for the Continuing Education, the technology platform of the Mortgage License Education Course Provider is critical to making the process smooth. The NMLS has specific guidelines on how the Education Course must operate regarding timing of the course, instructor interaction, timing out after a certain period of inactivity, verifying that the person taking the course is the actual Loan Originator, etc. However, the Course Providers have a lot of flexibility in making the compliance with these requirements as painless as possible. There is a huge difference between Course Providers so you may even want to ask to test their systems out before purchasing courses, especially if you are licensed in a lot of states or are making the decision of what Course Provider to use for many Loan Originators.
Customer Service - In my experience, this is by far the most important factor. Issues will come up such as courses not reporting to the NMLS properly, course windows ending before the course is completed and the need to reschedule, questions about what Mortgage License Education Courses are required for a new license or continuing education to renew your Loan Originator Licenses, or even just issues navigating their website. When these issues come up, you want to have someone at their office that always answers the phone during normal business hours so you can quickly resolve these issues. I have found that not all Education Course Providers have the same excellent customer service that you would expect. This is critical. If you start finding that the responses from customer service are slow or inadequate, then it is probably time to start looking for a new NMLS Mortgage License Education Course Provider.