4 Ways To Support Student Debt Holders

Credit unions that aren’t active in student lending can assist students in other ways.

 
 

As of 1Q 2012, the credit union industry holds $1.7B in outstanding student loan balances, according to Callahan & Associates’ Peer-to-Peer Software. These balances translate to over 374,000 student borrowers receiving the additional financial assistance they need to make their dreams a reality.

Yet getting into college is only half the battle. While only 7.4% of credit unions currently offer a student loan option, many others are providing extra assistance and support for graduates, even after they toss the cap.

Last month, we highlighted the purchase of rehabilitated student loans by State Employees’ Credit Union ($25B, Raleigh, NC). Now here are four more examples of how credit unions can efficiently and affordably step up their involvement in these members' financial lives.

A New Look For A Bright Future

With over 50% of their peers jobless or underemployed, according to the Associated Press, many college graduates feel more nervous about an impending graduation than excited. Michigan State University Credit Union ($2.3B, East Lansing, MI) is out to change that with its annual Grad Makeover Contest.

For the past several years, the credit union has offered graduating seniors at the university the chance to transition from flip-flops and Frisbees to the professional look employers desire. To enter, seniors must submit a photo and a short essay detailing who there are, their various activities in the community, and any other factors that set them apart from their peers.

This year’s two winners received $3,200 worth of business attire, jewelry, salon services, gift cards, and graduation-related memorabilia like a class ring and a diploma frame, according to a release. The students' new looks will be revealed as part of an on-campus event for all seniors that features professional interviews and career counseling as well as food and raffles.

Room To Breathe

Vermont State Employees Credit Union ($589M, Montpelier, VT) will disperse three $5,000 payments to the loan holders of three lucky student borrowers this September, relieving some of the financial pressures and long-term debt that those individuals face. Applicants to the credit union’s Student Loan Independence for Today (LIFT) program must be members and residents of Vermont, and must demonstrate that they are under the burden of student debt. One winner will be selected due to need (demonstrated by student loan payments in relation to monthly income), another due to their service (providing professional or volunteer support for citizens of the state), and a third for promoting financial literacy (providing contributions or creative solutions to help credit unions enhance financial awareness).

“For a person with a monthly student loan payment of $350, the $5,000 award will cover about a year of repayments on the college loan, giving the student or graduate time to find a job, build an emergency fund, or take care of other financial responsibilities,” says CEO Steve Post.

A Good Meal On Us

Individuals who either have or open a checking account with American Eagle Federal Credit Union ($1.4B, East Hartford, CT) will receive a one-time $25 deposit to their account if they can show a diploma from the last six months from either a high school, a two-year, or four-year undergraduate program. It’s a small dollar amount, but for some graduates it might be one of the only moments of recognition they get. The fact that their financial institution is supporting this personal achievement speaks volumes. 

A Good Job Or The Skills To Land One

Through the Polu Nalu (blue wave in Hawaiian) Management Training Program at First Financial Credit Union ($451M, West Covina, CA), recent graduates from area colleges will not only be immersed in the credit union experience for one year, but will emerge with the training and management experience required to one day run a branch of their own.

“Although they do not have financial industry experience, our candidates will be completely immersed in the daily operations of First Financial, learning the business from the ground up,” says Carlton Musmann, the credit union’s president and CEO.

“They will spend considerable time in all back-office departments, and just as importantly, will spend time walking in the shoes of fellow employees, gaining valuable hands-on experience ─ from working as cashiers in the branches to member service representatives in our call center.”