HAMMOND, Ind. -- There may be no records kept, but Regional Federal Credit Union of Hammond believes it holds the national title of having the most in-school branches--five of them.
"The response to our student credit union program has been incredible this year," said Jill Banning, president/CEO of the $85 million northwest Indiana CU.
Early last month Regional, a teachers' CU that pioneered the first student branch in 1990 in nearby Portage, opened its fifth branch at Hobart High School.
And now the CU said it is looking at two more of the student branches in Hammond schools during 2007 following a bandwagon effect supporting the program among teachers and students.
"The reaction by students has been overwhelmingly positive in every case and it shows that young people want to develop money management skills and get into the habit of saving," said Banning
The latest Hobart branch, which opened Nov. 8, allows members to make loans, deposits and withdrawals during lunch on days the branch is open. Students, between 15-17 can take advantage of a "Power Pay" loan program borrowing up to $300 for a year plus open free checking and "Head Start CDs."
The student workers learn skills such as cash handling, confidentiality and professionalism, said a CU news release claiming that nationwide there are 500 student CU branches in operation.
Regional, it said, is the only financial institution in northwest Indiana currently sponsoring such facilities.
On loans, Regional said qualified students can borrow up to the $300 for a year "for just about any purpose, but the difference between borrowing at school and taking a loan from the credit union's traditional office is the inclusion of the students' parents in the loan transaction."
"The objective of this loan is to open up communication in families about financial issues," explained Banning. "Although the parents are not co-signers, they are part of the application process. The credit union sits down with each student borrower and their parents to discuss credit basics, the importance of paying on time and the concept of interest before handing over a single dollar to the kids."
According to Banning, many of the parents benefit from the discussions as much as their children, learning about credit scoring, for instance.
In addition to the age requirements, students must have good attendance and behavior records, grades at C or better and must have some sort of job.
Student borrowers can be employed in retail facilities, do babysitting or lawn work to qualify.
On the Head Start CD, an account can be opened with $25, earning 4.9% for a six-month term.
During the term, they can make additional deposits in $25 increments. "Our motto is 'Lose the Pig,'" says Kevin Kosek, director of business development, explaining "no one is earning interest by putting money in a piggy bank."
Rather the youngsters "need to bring their money in to the credit union so they can earn the interest," he said. The account is open to young credit union members 0-17 and has become a popular spot for grandparents to deposit birthday money and other gifts. Since Regional started offering the accounts in March, 125 have been opened. --firstname.lastname@example.org