From everyday spending to taking out loans, where you bank is a big deal. It can cost — or save — you thousands.
Choose your college credit union, however, and chances are good you’ll end up saving.
Credit unions for college students operate just like banks. But while they offer the same services and products as most banks, college credit unions provide many benefits that banks don’t. Whether you’re a college student or a graduated alumnus, your college credit union could offer a better banking experience.
What is a college credit union?
Although college credit unions have ties to the educational institutions they serve, they aren’t directly run or overseen by the college itself. And not every college or university will have its own credit union. But the benefits can make it worth the effort to find out if your college has a credit union, and to make the switch.
“College students can benefit greatly from membership in their local college credit union,” says Derek Knowlton, vice president of marketing for University Federal Credit Union. “Not only can they get better rates, but they can often get extra benefits and perks because of the credit union’s on-campus relationships and programs.”
How a credit union for college students is beneficial
Generally, the products and services provided by a college credit union will be very similar to those found at other banks and credit unions. But on top of that, college credit unions offer several unique benefits to college students, as well.
1. Low-cost banking and borrowing
One of the biggest benefits of a college credit union is low-cost borrowing and banking.
“Credit unions don’t have shareholders that demand profits,” Knowlton points out. “They are member-owned, non-profit cooperatives that return their profits back to the members in the form of lower rates and member benefits.”
A credit union for college students can offer some of the lowest interest rates on loans and credit of all kinds. Auto loan rates with a credit union, for example, are almost half of those charged by banks, according to MyCreditUnion.gov. They also offer free and low-fee checking and savings accounts.
2. On-campus integration and support
Another key benefit for college students is the added convenience. Many credit unions for students are directly integrated with your campus life, Knowlton says.
In some cases, a college credit union is the only financial institution with an on-campus presence. This might include branches and ATMs. But it might also include seamless integration with meal programs and other on-campus programs.
Sometimes a college credit union might offer other perks, too. University Federal Credit Union pays members’ dues for the student section of at-home football games, for instance. College credit unions will also often sponsor important on-campus services and programs.
3. Products tailored to members’ needs
“[College credit unions also] offer many different products that are geared towards students, such as student Visa cards,” Knowlton says.
Student credit cards can be a low-cost way to start building credit. In addition, student checking gives members free access to banking services.
Even after leaving college, these credit unions offer products and resources suited for young adulthood. University Federal Credit Union, for example, offers first-time buyer programs for auto and home loans.
4. Personal finance educational resources
Many college credit unions recognize that most members are in a stage of life in which learning about personal finance and money management is important.
College credit unions often offer free seminars, online courses, and other resources to help members learn how to responsibly manage money. The credit union often works with the college’s personal finance programs, as well.
5. Help with college costs
College credit unions help students cover the costs of higher education in some cases, too. College scholarships are a common offering.
Typically, credit unions for college students also offer private student loans with low rates. For alumni, many college credit unions offer student loan refinancing that can make repayment faster and more affordable.
Many college students have low income and a thin credit file. But a credit union’s flexible lending standards make it easier for them to qualify for private student loans or student loan refinancing.
6. Easy-to-meet membership requirements
As a college student or alumnus, meeting membership requirements for a college credit union is easy. Simply by being a student or alumnus, you probably already qualify for membership with your college’s credit union.
To know for sure, you can visit the credit union’s website and look for a page outlining membership requirements. Or you can visit a branch or call to discuss your eligibility to join.
And if you do take the credit union plunge, chances are good you’ll save money — and never look back.
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1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.87% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.47% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.87% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of Month/Day/Year, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 08/21/18. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at email@example.com, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on ourstudent loan refinance product.
© 2018 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
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