Wells Fargo (WFC) is trying a new twist on long-controversial down-payment assistance programs, which give money to prospective borrowers who otherwise could not afford to buy homes.

Many blame the current foreclosure crisis in part on borrowers who could not ultimately afford the houses they bought, and on the banks who lent to them. But Wells Fargo is attempting to avoid repeating some of those mistakes. To prevent the high default rates that have scuttled down-payment assistance programs in the past, the San Francisco bank's new NeighborhoodLift program requires that participants attend financial education classes before receiving grants.

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