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Wisconsin CUs saved consumers $1B since recession
PEWAUKEE, Wis. (1/23/13)--Wisconsin credit union members saved close to $1 billion since 2007, according to the REAL Solutions Scorecard for Wisconsin Credit Unions, a report the Wisconsin Credit Union League released Monday.

Nationally, 93.3 million credit union members save $6 billion a year through more competitive rates and lower and fewer fees, according to the Credit Union National Association's Economics and Statistics Department. 

Since the start of the recession, Wisconsin credit unions also increased their lending to small businesses by 55% to compensate for a lack of business credit from banks.

CUNA and credit unions hope to increase that further by urging Congress to raise credit unions' member business lending (MBL) cap to 27.5% of assets from 12.25%. Increasing the cap would open up more opportunity to offer MBLs, inject $13 billion in business loans into the economy and create as many as 140,000 new jobs, with no cost to taxpayers.

"Credit unions are united for good," said Brett Thompson, league president/CEO. "The scorecard provides a clear picture of how credit unions build financially strong, self-sufficient families, business and communities in Wisconsin."

Credit unions in the state operate 40% of all the financial institution branches in low-income areas, providing $44 million in savings for lower-income consumers. Most credit unions still offer free checking, the report said.

Wisconsin credit unions also operated 100 in-school branches that helped students save $3 million and provided hands-on business experience. Credit unions delivered 5,500 presentations to 34,000 consumers, purchased 41,330 copies of a personal finance magazine to help 382 teachers at 309 high schools teach money management, said the league.

Cooperative financial institutions also engaged close to 15,000 students in financial decision making through reality fairs and CUNA's online Money Mission game.

Credit unions also outperformed non-credit union lenders by approving 67.7% of home loans for low-income borrowers and 70.4% of home loans for minority borrowers, compared with a 57.1% and 56.5% approval rate by others, respectively.

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