MADISON, Wis. (10/16/13)--While Congress struggles to get past the government shutdown impasse, credit unions are showing a can-do attitude--even when some credit union branches themselves are closed because of government building closures. They are still serving their members.
Not only has Norcross, Ga.-based Excel FCU, which serves primarily government employees, seen its members affected by the shutdown, but its branch in the Atlanta Federal Center in Atlanta has been closed by the government standstill, said the Georgia Credit Union Affiliates.
The credit union is offering a short-term, interest-free loan to members to make up the difference in a reduced or missed paycheck. It can be converted to an 11-month loan with interest.
The campus locations of Atlanta-based CDC FCU also are closed, and members are being directed to its Northlake branch and to Internet and phone services, plus its deposit-friendly image-enabled ATMs, said GCUA. Members whose paychecks are impacted by the shutdown will have their fee waived if they take a "skip-a-pay" option. Those with direct deposit are also prequalified for loans equal to their last deposit.
Associated CU, also based in Norcross, is offering a $750 loan with deferred interest and payments for eligible members, and has identified 7,000 members who are eligible to apply for its furlough assistance. During the first week of the shutdown, Associated CU processed $76,500 in program loans, with 50 loans processed in one day.
"We're committed to our members and make our decisions based on their best interests," said Chadwick Evans, assistant vice president of consumer lending at Associated CU. "Our members count on us to have their backs, so creating an interest-free loan only made sense. This loan has alleviated a tremendous amount of stress during this uncertain time," Evans added.
Other Georgia credit unions offering assistance include TIC FCU in Columbus, which has an interest-free loan for federal employees; GeoVista FCU, Hinesville, which provides penalty-free withdrawals on certificates, extensions and interest-only payments on certain loans, with the possibility of interest-free notes with rollover options; and Robins FCU, Warner Robins, which provides loan extensions, skip-a-pay options and expedited approval on credit cards and lines of credit.
Credit unions in Maine have expanded their efforts to help furloughed members. "Maine credit unions have a long history of stepping up to help people during difficult times, so it is great to see credit unions doing so again for members impacted by the federal shutdown," said Maine Credit Union League President John Murphy.
Two examples: In Portland,, cPort CU has about 1,200 members who are federal employees and is offering skip-a-payment options; an interest-free, three-month loan extension; a 30-day interest-free loan for the amount of a missed paycheck; and penalty-free early withdrawals on certificates. Town and Country FCU, South Portland, introduced a Furloughed Workers Relief Loan of up to $5,000 with a 12-month repayment at 2% annual percentage rate.
US FCU in Burnsville, Minn., is offering both aid and education to those hit by shutdown paycheck woes. It is rolling out new programs and reminding the community of existing services. Borrower Resources is provided by USFCU's Asset Protection Department and has tools to help members through times of financial strain. Tools include loan consolidation, loan payment relief and loan restructuring.
It also offers a signature loan program to get money in the member's account fast. It requires no collateral. Members can borrow small amounts at a short-term and defer the first payment for up to 90 days. USFCU also offers penalty-free share certificate withdrawals and provides free, one-to-one financial counseling through Lutheran Social Service.
If the shutdown persists, the credit union is directing members to its website for seminars hosted by the credit union and Lutheran Social Service. The "Surviving the Shutdown" education program is free.
"Our purpose is to serve the needs of the community in good times and bad," said Bill Raker, USFCU president/CEO. The credit union promises service, value and experience members can trust. "In a time of need, that philosophy is more relevant than ever."
(See related News Now story, CUNA Highlights CUs' Furlough Efforts For Federal Lawmakers.)