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From the October-01, 2008 issue of Credit Union Times Magazine • Subscribe!
CUs Can Gain Gen Y With Student Loans and Service
One of the best ways for credit unions to get into the good graces of Gen Y may not be through technology but through lending.<p>Student loans can be one of the best ways for credit unions to capitalize on Gen Y, bring in young members and keep those members for life. With the high costs of education and lenders dropping out of the market, students need loans. They also need information, and, most importantly, they need good service.</p><p>During one extremely frustrating hour-long phone call with my loan provider, I was put on hold five times and had to talk to three different people who each had a different answer to one simple question. Afterward, I called up a credit union in my area to see if I could switch my loan.</p><p>I called the 800 number for the credit union, explained what I was interested in, was immediately transferred to a loan representative who understood my situation and explained my options. He answered the questions I had, was honest and talked to me like a human being instead of reading off a script. This is the type of service that credit unions pride themselves on, and it can make a huge difference to a student or a parent who needs questions answered and needs guidance when it comes to student loans.</p><p>I know many credit unions do offer student loans, so I talked to a couple credit unions about their programs to get some background information. Texas Dow Employees Credit Union in Lake Jackson, Texas, just started offering student loans this past June. Vice president for student lending at TDECU, Caite Blount, said that the program doesn't just offer loan products but provides education to parents by going to events at high schools and colleges. A student going to college has so many other things going on that student loans are going to be last thing they think about, but it's the first thing on parents' mind when they think about college.</p><p>Another important part to a student lending program is employees and how well they are trained. At TDECU, Blount said that it has a core group of people trained on the student lending program rather than a large group of people who each know only a little about the program. She said that the CU brings in student lending experts to talk with the staff and also brings in people from colleges and high schools so that employees can understand student lending from both perspectives.</p><p>At UW Credit Union in Madison, Wis., Education Lending Coordinator Sherrie Nelson said she often speaks to students personally about any questions they have. Nelson said that students can also come in and speak to someone at a branch to lay everything out, discuss their options and get the big picture of their financial situation. This year, Nelson said, because student lending has been in the news so much and people are asking questions before they act, she's received more questions from both students and parents than any year.</p><p>A lot of what I've seen about credit unions and Gen Y gives off the perception that service isn't something we value. While in some cases this may be true and we are looking for better technology rather than service, student lending isn't one of those cases. Now more than ever, we want a face and a voice. We want the credit union difference I read about and hear about everyday.</p><p>--firstname.lastname@example.org</p><p> </p><p> </p>
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