Advice, accounts for student members heading back to school

August 12, 2015

MADISON, Wis. (8/12/15)--No fees. Free online and mobile banking. Access to surcharge-free ATM networks. As students head back to school, credit unions are aiming to make their accounts as necessary to students as a good Wi-Fi signal.

Campaigns such as these may be very attractive to millennials, who are drawn to financial institutions with lower fees and service charges, better savings rates and better loan rates, according to CUNA’s National Member and Nonmember Survey. The recently released report, highlighted in the August issue of Credit Union Magazine, also noted that credit unions need to demonstrate they are tech-savvy, innovative and consumer-friendly organizations.

Ent FCU, Colorado Springs, Colo., introduced new student-centered checking that has no minimum balance requirement or monthly service fee. Designed for students age 15 to 26, the account includes four free out-of-network ATM transactions per month, dividends on account balances and access to free online and bill pay services.

The Student Edge account from Elements Financial FCU, Indianapolis, is aimed at students age 15 to 23. “We want to support their basic needs now and help with long term financial wellness when borrowing or investment needs arise later,” said Chris Sibila, executive vice president of payments and technology.

Student Edge has no monthly and overdraft fees with no minimum balance requirements or transaction limits. In addition to remote deposit capture, online and mobile banking, Student Edge supports Apple Pay and Visa Checkout.

Having a credit union account when at college is one thing. Knowing how to use it prudently is another.

Susan Tompor, personal financial columnist for the Detroit Free Press, tapped Ebeth Fielder for tips on the importance of talking about finances (Aug. 6). The Young and Free Michigan spokester said parents and students should break down the costs of living away from home or the costs of commuting, such as gas and parking.

And April Clobes, president/CEO of Michigan State University FCU, East Lansing, Mich., warned students against using financial aid on non-education items. "Don't spend your financial aid on luxury items because you have 'extra' money available. It will cost you more in the long run," she told Tompor. "Learn to live within your means."

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