EL PASO, Texas -- Greater El Paso Credit Union has discovered the secret to reaching Generation Y: give them $10,000.
The credit union has created a new edition of its savings challenge targeted at college students. Members and nonmembers who are enrolled full-time at any local college or trade school are eligible to send in an audition video to be one of six contestants selected to develop a savings plan and potentially win $10,000. Each of the other non-winning contestants will receive $2,500.
There is one catch though, half of the $10,000 must go toward college expenses, 40% must go toward paying down debt and the remaining 10% can be spent any way the winner wants.
The savings challenge GECU held in the past was aimed at helping adult members learn to develop their savings and get out of debt. The goal of the college edition is to help students develop and stick to a budget, understand more proactive ways of paying for college and help them get out of college sooner so they can start earning a salary and develop more of a savings.
In the past, contestants have applied for the contests by submitting a paper application. With the college edition contestants apply by submitting a three-minute video by uploading it on the credit union Web site, www.gecu-ep.org, going to one of the credit unions audition sites or delivering the video to the credit union.
The auditions opened on Sept. 8, and so far Vice President of Marketing Musette Bracher said they've received about 20 video applications.
"We're taking a new approach to this," Bracher said. "In the past challenges we've measured savings, but with the college edition we're now going to be looking at how well contestants can establish and maintain a budget, if they can stay away from unnecessary debt and how well they manage credit cards and a checking account."
The credit union is accepting applications from nonmembers, but in order to compete in the contest they must become a member of the credit union.
To reach the target audience of students age 18 to 24, Bracher said they are holding open auditions for the contest at popular student hangouts and advertising on local radio stations. One audition site is a coffee house that Bracher said is known to be a local college hangout.
Bracher said they also sent out a direct mailing, e-mails to members, a viral e-mail encouraging employees to pass it on to everyone in their address book, set up a site on Facebook and MySpace and posted a video on YouTube.
"In the first two days the YouTube video was up it received 600 hits," Bracher said. "About 100 of those hits can be attributed to our sales team and advertisers, but it still generated a great response."
GECU will select four English-speaking and two Spanish-speaking contestants to participate in the challenge. They will each work with a coach to develop specific financial habits and goals over a one-year period and will report on their progress monthly on television and the GECU Web site.
Bracher said contestants will be selected based mostly on desire and willingness to develop a sound financial system. They will also look at financial statements and personal stories.
In past challenges, every contestant has been successful, Bracher said. This year she said that one of the contestants did have a bigger challenge ahead of them than expected.
"We had one family that owned a small business that was struggling, so they faced more challenges than we had originally anticipated for them. But they didn't stop trying even though they were not reaching the same goals as other contestants. They continued to learn how to save and were able to use savings to pay for some of the unexpected bumps rather than creating more debt."
GECU will begin reviewing application videos mid-October and announce the contestants on Dec. 3. The challenge itself will begin on Jan. 19, 2009.