NEW YORK (2/26/16)--A successful credit union-based program that helps members build their credit and their savings is featured in The New York Times this week.
Borrow and Save, a pilot from the Filene Research Institute, ties borrowers’ small loans to a required savings plan.
Freedom First CU, Roanoke, Va., has offered the program since 2012. The program is often used as a path to build credit, establish regular payment habits and bolster savings accounts. “Once [members] have the nest egg started, it’s easier to contribute,” Dave Prosser, Freedom First’s senior vice president for community development, told the Times.
In Filene’s pilot, the participating credit unions made loans of an average amount just under $1,000 to more than 3,000 borrowers. Borrowers saved an average $290, which “for many people, it can provide at least a minimal safety net,” the “Your Money Adviser” column noted.
In a survey of 146 of the borrowers, 94% said the loan helped in an emergency, and 89% said they would use the program again if needed.
The savings component helps credit unions mitigate risk--fewer than 2% of borrowers defaulted, according to Pamela Owens, vice president for programs at the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions.