Credit unions know that in order to convince young adults to attend an educational event, an incentive must be involved. In CAP COM Federal Credit Union’s case, comedy and prizes are what recently brought a large group of 15- to 25-year-olds through the door.
The $972 million, Albany, N.Y.-based credit union held a Jan. 8 money management workshop, “Dollars and Sense,” which, in addition to featuring an appearance from comedian/financial blogger Colin Ryan and up-for-grabs loot including an iPad mini, allowed CAP COM FCU to cross-sell its products and services, the credit union said.
CAP COM FCU invited Ryan to liven up the event after watching him perform at last summer’s Credit Union Association of New York Conference, said Ryan Chenot, a certified financial planning specialist for CAP COM FCU’s College Bound Program. The event opened with a presentation from Chenot and another CAP COM FCU employee on basic budgeting skills and how the credit union’s services, such as mobile banking and remote-deposit capture, can help members manage their finances. They also touched on how members can protect themselves from cyber crime, he said.
“These are products and services that young adults will need to use in college, so it’s good to get them in front of them before they leave for school,” Chenot said. “We want to introduce them early.”
In Ryan’s portion of the workshop, he explained the importance of money management during the early stages of a career and shared anecdotes from his personal journey as a stand-up comedian. Throughout the event, attendees completed questionnaires and pop quizzes for a chance to win a variety of gift cards and the evening’s grand prize, the iPad mini.
The workshop drew more than 150 young adults from more than 10 school districts, and in addition, more than 150 parents joined the event for a companion workshop on how to complete an federal application for student aid. The turnout equaled an attendance increase of 200% compared to the same workshop hosted by the credit union last year, Chenot said.
In the companion workshop, parents received a crash course on how to complete a student aid form, including how to maximize their aid by reducing the amount of their family contribution and where to find alternative sources of financial aid, the credit union said.
CAP COM FCU has two more college-related workshops planned for early this year–on March 5, its “College Prep Workshop” will teach high school sophomores and juniors and their parents about college selection, applications, interviews and scholarships, as well as how to build a smart financing plan, and on March 26, its “College Experience Workshop” will invite high school seniors and their parents to learn about additional college funding options and what to expect in school.
The workshops are part of CAP COM FCU’s College Bound Program, which provides members with college planning consultation services from Chenot and the credit union’s second full-time certified financial planning specialist, Kim Donah. CAP COM FCU’s president/CEO, Paula A. Stopera, launched the program after discovering how much time and effort parents must invest in the college planning process.
“The college process is daunting,” Stopera said. “I was stunned by the time needed to help my daughter choose colleges and complete applications. I knew then that CAP COM could help parents and students.”
CAP COM FCU offers its own option for college funding–its private student loan portfolio, which comprises loans originated solely by the credit union, currently totals $38 million, according to Chenot.