Starting a High School Credit Union Branch

“The Burbank Teachers FCU in 1974 wanted to grow the membership. This was before HR1151. The credit union was limited to the Burbank Unified School District. Basically, growth only came when someone retired & the new hire joined & brought in family, too.

Peggy Holliday, CEO approached the two Burbank High Schools’ student body looking for students on campus willing to launch the student credit union at each high school. I was in 10th grade (Sophomore) & expressed interest.

Peggy had previously obtained BUSD approval after presenting a business plan, etc. The NCUA approved the FOM charter expansion for high school students.

The BUSD was impressed the business plan included marketing & educational pieces on savings, compound interest, loans, financial money management, check book management, etc.

Each student credit union at the two high schools operated independent of each other. Each student credit union had their own BOD, Supervisory Committee, Credit Committee, tellers, manager, etc. It was fully staffed by the students all volunteer help.

Each high school had a Burbank High School faculty advisor (these folks were also directors of Burbank Teachers FCU). When students graduated high school, their membership would transfer to the parent sponsor credit union Burbank Teachers FCU.

Loans were approved for new/used car purchases, prom date, musical instruments, stereos, etc. We did business loans…some students started pool routes, or carpet cleaning businesses, etc & some became quite successful as we could see the deposit account balances increase!

So the loans could extend beyond graduation from high school. Because most all students were less than 18 – just about 100% required mom or dad to co-sign to make the contract valid. Contracts with minors as you are aware are not enforceable!

Once the student joined the credit union, of course family members became eligible, too.

The high school student credit union was open during the lunch & before and after school. We accepted cash and check deposits. We balanced daily, closed the books at month end, and paid dividends on deposits.

This was all ledger paper accounting.

Remember…pre-in house computers. We had monthly board meetings, and prepared the Balance Sheet & Income Statements. Loans in collection were followed up by the student credit union collectors!

We reported monthly to the credit profile agency (Trans Union, Experian, Equifax).

The student volunteers obtained “work experience” credit – it was considered an elective class. Instead of wood shop, arts & crafts, you got work experience credit for high school graduation. Students could get checking accounts at the credit union.

Some of the students continued career paths from the high school credit union, including myself, Robert Einstein CEO @ Ume FCU ((formerly Burbank Teachers FCU)). There is an attorney at Styskal, Weise, Melchoine – Bruce Pearson – that got his start from there, too, as I recall. Some of these high school students are now on the BOD at UMeFCU.”

This account was provided by Stuart Perlitsh who retired in March 2017 from Glendale Area Schools Credit Union after 22 years as its CEO.

For a current take on the concept, Credit Union of Texas is stepping up by opening SMART branches in local high schools

One Reply to “Starting a High School Credit Union Branch”

  1. Robert Einstein writes: Nice article today, but neither I, nor Bruce Pearson worked for the Student Credit Unions. Bruce worked at our Credit Union as a Collector, while in law school. I was hired as a CFO, 22 years ago. We do have a Board Member that was from the Student Credit Union.

    This example was also referenced in this blog (https://chipfilson.com/2020/11/students-enrolling-the-next-generation-of-members/) which also described NCUA’s support for college based student credit unions in 1984.

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