SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- When it comes to servicing the financial needs of students, faculty and administrators, Notre Dame Federal Credit Union has long had a good thing going with its sponsor and this month staffers get to describe further progress on an innovative cash management venture during a CU conference here.
"I'd say our partnership over the years has worked quite well not only in building new business but also in managing to help the university cut costs and so on that we're glad to share how we've done it," said Leo Ditchcreek, president/CEO.
Indeed, since 2003 Notre Dame FCU has widened its financial role on campus by running many functions of the university cashier office, not a traditional role for many college-based CUs across the U.S. In the process,
the college's H.R. expenses have
The $373 million CU landed part of the cashier's job after it replaced a branch of a large Midwest bank, which over the years had been subject to student complaints of poor service and high consumer fees.
Both the CU and the university declined to identify the bank.
"We have a number of many great relationships with banks across the U.S. but in the case of our campus branch, the credit union has performed very well in taking good care of the financial needs of students and faculty as well as of their many clubs and groups which operate on and off the campus." explained Nancy Majerek, treasury manager for the university.
At times during the school year, some of those groups need start-up cash or convenient access to funds for ticket purchases in line with fundraising in conjunction with sporting events, films or other activities. Previously, that service had been provided by the cashier's office, but is now handled by the CU, she said.
Majerek is a featured speaker June 8-9 discussing the NDFCU program at the annual Big Ten Conference of Credit Unions expected to draw more than 150 CU executives from 12 Midwest colleges.
In detailing the university's partnership with NDFCU, Majerek said the CU's expanded job of handling university funds came after the South Bend CU was a successful RFP bidder for a campus branch in the student activities center.
The CU was selected to replace the bank to handle both student and employee needs and after a year's time, the university expanded the CU functions to include accepting and processing tuition payments, departmental deposits
and providing cash for student events.
Majerek said the university had seen a duplication of effort in the cashier's office and the bank on campus and decided "to eliminate the duplication to improve efficiencies and outsource some of these tasks."
Ditchcreek, the NDFCU CEO, said that in outbidding the bank
for the student branch, it became a "mutual thing" for the CU and
the administration to expand
Previously, NDFCU with 60,000 members maintained an off-campus facility in addition to 11 other branches in metropolitan South Bend and northern Indiana
The branch is the CU's first on campus facility "and for that we're very pleased that we can reach our members more conveniently," said Ditchcreek.
As part of the arrangement, NDFCU agreed to hire the existing four university employees. Later on, "as we saw the duplication in our departments and what the credit union could do, we decided to transfer some functions to them," said Majerek.
She estimates the annual savings to the university by having the CU function as bursar at about $130,000 "and it might be more than that per year."
"We used to be worried about the cashier's money being safe, and vault secure and then there were concerns about alarms and employee safety and we have none of that," said Majerek.
The CU is obviously "better equipped" for this kind of function plus getting deposits credited faster and same day crediting of accounts.
Majerek said the Big Ten South Bend conference will be the first time she has addressed a CU gathering but she has spoken before on the CU program at the Conference for College & University Bursars and Student Financial Services and at the Treasury Symposium for Higher Education.
Overall, addition of cash management has been helpful to NDFCU in "solidifying our relationship while helping tremendously in reaching our members," said Ditchcreek.
He said NDFCU has been attracting 1,500-2,000 new members a year from the college tie-in and has been careful to ensure that its services and fees are profitable. "We aren't giving our services away but we're not gouging."
Among college-sponsored CUs, NDFCU is not alone in handling cash services with USC CU of Los Angeles performing that function for the University of Southern California.
"Handling these kinds of transactions has certainly cemented our relationship with the university and it has been a win-win for both of us," said Gary Perez, president/CEO.
"We've been able to meet the unique needs of students who come to us for tuition financing and for car loans but let me say we've never found our student portfolio a high risk," said Perez.
Moreover, USC CU has been able to secure "premium, long-term and larger space on the campus and that has been excellent."
Regarding cashiering transactions processed for USC, Perez, said for the fiscal year July 2006 through March 2007, "we averaged 10,485 transactions per month with the average dollar volume at $40,998,230 including over-the-counter and automated."
The campus facility, he said, has turned into a "one stop financial shop" for students and employees and the CU has managed to reach a young audience for products and services.