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Credit and Debt Outcomes for Participants in Compass FSS Programs

Haisheng Yang, Lesley Freiman, Jeffrey Lubell, Zoe Greenwood


May 12, 2023

This report from Abt Global compares changes in FICO® Score and debt outcomes over time for participants in Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Programs administered by Compass Working Capital (Compass) to those of a benchmarked comparison group. 

The report finds that participants in Compass FSS programs outperformed the comparison group on key indicators, including a significant increase in FICO® Scores (comparison group members’ scores stayed flat). While both the total debt and student debt of Compass FSS participants grew over the study period, the growth was significantly less than seen in the comparison group. Specifically:

  • The FICO® Scores of Compass FSS participants increased by 19.8 points more.
  • Total debt of Compass FSS participants grew by $3,210 less.
  • Student debt of Compass FSS participants grew by $2,057 less.

These findings complement our previous research, which found that participation in Compass FSS was associated with substantial increases in earned income and reductions in cash public assistance benefits that outweigh the costs of administering the program. Together, these analyses show that participation in Compass FSS programs leads to substantial financial benefits for participants.

Compass administers FSS programs in partnership with public housing agencies (PHAs) and nonprofit owners of affordable multifamily rental housing properties. FSS combines stable, affordable rental housing with: (a) case management or coaching to help participants identify and achieve their goals and (b) an escrow savings account that increases in value as participants’ earnings and rent contributions rise. Compass delivers a financial capability-focused model of FSS with client-driven coaching.

The study focused on FSS participants in two Massachusetts PHAs and one private multifamily owner.