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CUs student loan efforts recognized in IWall St. JournalI

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NEW YORK (8/7/09)--A Dow Jones Newswires personal finance column carried in Thursday's Wall Street Journal discusses the increase in credit unions offering student loans as a response to consumer demand in a tight-credit market. Jilian Mincer's "Getting Personal" column notes that many private lenders are abandoning the business as access to credit tightens. However, credit unions are in a better position to make loans because they did not engage in speculative financial practices. The column cites several credit union programs, including the Credit Union Student Choice program, which has more than 80 credit unions participating; New Jersey credit unions' new network for student loans; and Connecticut credit unions' new program in which the state partially guarantees loans made by 25 credit unions. Paul Gentile, president/CEO of the New Jersey Credit Union League, told Mincer that banks have exited the student loan market in a big way and that the league's new network of credit unions making student loans is getting an "overwhelming" number of applications. Tony Emerson, president/CEO of the Credit Union League of Connecticut, says the response to credit unions' program in that state has been "outstanding." He noted some credit unions are maintaining rates of 5.75% or 6% for 10 years or more. Those in the program commit to the rates for the first five years. In the article, Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of FinAid, a website tracking the college financial aid industry, says credit unions loans are "worth considering once government loan options have been exhausted."

First Iowa CU IDA saver buys first home

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ESTHERVILLE, Iowa (8/7/09)--Christy Mart's dream of owning a home is now reality. She closed on her first home in Wallingford, Iowa, on July 21, becoming the first Iowa credit union Individual Development Account (IDA) saver to buy a home.
Click to view larger image Posing in front of the new home purchased by the first Individual Development Account (IDA) saver in Iowa credit unions' IDA program are, from left: Marybeth Foster, executive director, Iowa Credit Union Foundation (ICUF); Christy Mart, the IDA saver and new homeowner; and Lana Ross, executive director of Community Action Agencies and board member of ICUF. (Photo provided by the Iowa Credit Union Foundation)
Mart's savings was matched by $4,000 through the Iowa Credit Union Foundation's Credit Union Family Partnership IDA program. She used the amount for the down payment on the home. As part of the program, Mart receives financial education through Employees CU, based in Estherville. An IDA participant's savings is matched by a grant from another organization. The individual can use the savings and matching funds to purchase a specific asset such as a home, start or expand a small business, pay for education or job training, or purchase a vehicle to get to work. "The goal of the program is to help demonstrate to low-income Iowans the importance of savings in an effort to end poverty and to help working Iowans become financially independent," said Employees CU CEO Mark Peters. Peters noted that Mart has "learned more about money management that will guide her in the future." The credit union is one of nine Iowa credit unions in the Credit Union Family Partnership IDA program. "The whole experience has just been amazing and continues to get better and better," Mart said. "Everything worked out perfectly to help me purchase this home, and I am so lucky to have been given this opportunity and for the generous financial support provided through the credit union IDA program and Employees CU." "Christy is our first Iowa credit union IDA saver to purchase an asset, and we couldn't be happier," said Marybeth Foster, ICUF executive director. "She is such a hard worker, and we're thrilled to have helped her become more financially secure."

Article CUs an alternative to Wis.s payday loans

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MADISON, Wis. (8/7/09)--Wisconsin credit unions are striving to be an alternative to costly payday loans for state residents in need of cash, said an article about the state’s lack of a ceiling on payday lending rates. Credit unions are attempting to meet the need for small, short-term loans, said Christine Henzig, director of communications for the Wisconsin Credit Union League (The Capital Times Aug. 5). A 2008 survey indicated that 60 Wisconsin credit unions offer loans that in essence are alternatives to payday loans, even though they are not uniformly marketed that way, Henzig told the newspaper. The article also mentioned the national initiative to help credit unions develop products to improve their members’ creditworthiness and build wealth---REAL Solutions. The program is offered by the National Credit Union Foundation. University of Wisconsin CU, Madison, Wis., told the newspaper it is encouraged by members’ responses to its Paycheck Advance program, which lent more than $21,000 in 51 loans to members since its inception in June. Through the program, members can borrow up to $500 at a 21.75% interest rate. They must pay back a $50 minimum each month. Borrowers must be members of the credit union, maintain a positive balance in their accounts for six months, and have their paychecks directly deposited into their accounts, the paper said. “Compared to payday loan interest, [the program] offers significant savings to members who have trouble qualifying for a traditional loan,” Mike Long, the credit union’s executive vice president and chief credit officer, told the paper.

New Ohio Latino CU awarded 50000 from Toledo foundation

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DUBLIN, Ohio (8/7/09)--A Toledo, Ohio, foundation has awarded a grant to an Ohio-based credit union that is being established to help Latinos in the Northwestern part of the state. The credit union, Nueva Esperanza (New Hope) Community CU, would be the first new state-chartered credit union in Ohio in more than 20 years that serves an area in which more than half of area households are low-income. Toledo Community Foundation provided $50,000 to Nueva Esperanza on the condition that the credit union raises an additional $100,000, receives its charter, and obtains federal deposit insurance, said the Ohio Credit Union League (eLumination Aug. 5). The application was written by a grantwriter funded by the Ohio Credit Union Foundation, which obtained a $69,500 Innovation Grant from the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) for the credit union earlier this year. "Nueva Esperanza Community Credit Union will be a real asset to South Toledo," said Steve Bosack, NCUF deputy dirctor. "The credit union's presence will help residents achieve financial literacy, establish credit, and build savings. With so much support coming from within the community, the credit union will also serve as a source of community pride."

Fraudster targets shared branches

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BEAVER, Pa. (8/7/09)--WESTAIRCOMM FCU, Beaver, Pa., is alerting credit unions on its shared-branching network about a fraudster who has hit several western Pennsylvania credit unions. The individual opened an account with WEST-AIRCOMM in early June. Over the next few weeks, he deposited checks at two other credit unions on the shared branching network. The checks looked like payroll checks, but were from closed accounts (Life is Highway Aug.5). The fraudster knows the workings of shared branching, said Bill Gandjos, director of collections and security for WEST-AIRCOMM. “He’s definitely a pro. He went to two different shared service centers--one in West Mifflin, Pa., and one in McKeesport, Pa.--and deposited checks on the same closed accounts,” Gandjos told News Now. “My gut feeling is that he thought we wouldn’t do anything about it. I talked to him Monday.” The credit union sent the man a letter, required by Pennsylvania law, informing him that he had 10 days to make good on the checks or be subject to prosecution. That 10 days passed July 31, Gandjos said. “I gave his name to the Beaver (Pa.) police to prosecute him,” Gandjos added. Sandy Shenk, Pennsylvania Credit Union Service Centers Inc. state coordinator, suggested to the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association that credit unions delay access to shared branching for new members until the members have established a relationship with the credit union.

Alabama-based CU placed in conservatorship

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (8/7/09)--The senior staff of Mutual Savings CU, Birmingham, Ala., is working with the Alabama Credit Union Administration(ACUA) to get the credit union out of conservatorship, Sonja Purvis, senior vice president of marketing and development, told News Now. The state-chartered credit union was placed into conservatorship by ACUA July 31. Its board, supervisory committee, and CEO have been relieved of their duties at the credit union. Members of the senior staff remain, Purvis said. Tom Tatum has been named acting CEO of the $191 million asset credit union. Tatum has more than 40 years of experience in the credit union industry and is the former CEO of Jefferson County Teachers FCU.

CU System briefs (08/06/2009)

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* JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (8/7/09)--Thieves tried to steal a credit union's ATM with a stolen backhoe early Wednesday morning, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office ( Aug. 5). The incident, which occurred at a VyStar CU stand-alone ATM in Mandarin, was discovered by a passerby who called police at 4:30 a.m. A tractor with a backhoe pulled the ATM out of the ground and damaged the machine. For a video report of the damage use the link … * SEATTLE (8/7/09)--A substitute postman was charged last week with mail theft and bank fraud after alleged swiping business checks totaling $220,000 from his delivery route and depositing them into his wife's account at BECU (formerly Boeing Employees CU). After allegedly depositing a check for more than $208,000, Trevor L. McBee told his wife they'd won the lottery, according to court documents. The documents allege he forged the payee's name on the back of the check as endorsement or altered the payee to include his wife's name, then forged her name to endorse the check. All checks were deposited via ATMs. (The Seattle Times Aug. 5) … * MONTGOMERY, Ala. (8/7/09)--A former accountant and chief financial officer at Wiregrass FCU, a $37 million asset credit union in Dothan, Ala., was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison for embezzlement. Becky J. Hughes, 49, of Midland City, Ala., pleaded guilty March 25. She also was ordered to serve five years of supervised release. Beginning in 2000, court documents said, Hughes opened several Visa credit card accounts in her and relatives' names, and increased the credit limit of one account in her name from $5,000 to $50,000. Hughes owed $137,000 on the cards when Wiregrass discovered the problem in 2008 (US Fed News_Aug. 6) … * LANSING, Mich. (8/7/09)--The Michigan Credit Union League has promoted Marcia Hune to vice president of governmental and public affairs, and Michael DeFors as vice president of information
services, effective immediately. Hune will oversee all legislative advocacy and external communications, while DeFors will oversee regulatory affairs, education and member communication. They will split the duties of former Executive Vice President Patrick La Pine, who became president/CEO of the League of Southeastern Credit Unions Monday. Hune has more than nine years' experience in state legislature as staff for two speakers of the house, two majority floor leaders and the House Republican Policy Office. DeFors, an attorney, was the league's director of regulatory affairs for five years. He has 16 years' experience as senior vice president of governmental and public affairs with the Michigan Bankers Association … * BATON ROUGE, La. (8/7/09)--Kids under 12 enjoyed the Sixth Annual Free Kids Bike Race sponsored Saturday in Denham Springs by Pelican State CU, with help from North Oaks Health Systems and Anytime Fitness (eWeekly Aug. 5). According to the Louisiana Credit Union League, more than 100 children and their families attended the event, which was created to give the community a completely free day of fun. Each bike racer received a medal of completion and a bag of goodies. Free bicycles were raffled off in three age groups: Winners were Juliana Girona, 4; Nicolas Girona, 6; and Blayne Chapman, 10. (Photo provided by the Louisiana Credit Union League) …

CUNA Management School graduates 55

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MADISON, Wis. (8/7/09)--CUNA Management School graduated 55 students with 27 designated as honors students. The school took place on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.
Click to view larger image Mark Bohdaynk (left), president of the CUNA Management School Madison Class of 2009, receives the Al Jordan Award from Eddie Hamp, director of campus activities at the school’s graduation in Madison, Wis. (Photo provided by CUNA)
Of the 155 students attending the three-year program, 41 were first-year students, 59 were second-year students, and 55 were third-year students. Sixteen graduated with honors, nine with high honors, and two with highest honors. Kristina Grebener, director of editorial staff and strategic development at the Credit Union National Association and Kathleen O’Brien, Casco FCU in Gorham, Maine, received highest honors. High honors graduates were:
* Marlene Curtis, Munising (Mich.) Community CU; * Laura Eblen, Central Missouri Community CU, Warrensburg, Mo.; * Jay Gostonczik, General Mills FCU, Minnetonka, Minn.; * Chris Kleckner, Cornerstone CU, Freeport, Ill.; * Michelle Merkley, Keystone FCU, West Chester, Pa.; * Tracy Molander, Linn Area CU, Cedar Rapids, Iowa; * Daniel Rajsic, First Trust FCU, Michigan City, Ind.; * Brett Rinker, Industrial Centre FCU, Muncie, Ind.; and * Craig Sanders, America First FCU, Ogden, Utah.
Honors graduates were:
* Matthew Beaulieu, Holy Rosary Regional CU, Rochester, N.H.; * Scott Byron, Dow Chemical CU, Midland, Mich.; * Julie Cash, Associated Healthcare CU, St. Paul, Minn.; * Suanne Debski, UP Catholic CU, Marquette, Mich.; * Dawn Dunkelberger, North Memorial FCU, Robbinsdale, Minn.; * Michele Goebel, Dale ECU, Columbus, Neb.; * Willian Jarvis, Valley Communities CU, Mosinee, Wis.; * Carol Judd, Tinker FCU, Midwest City, Okla.; * Jewell Konieczny, Bangor (Maine) FCU; * Adam McGowan, Jax FCU, Jacksonville, Fla.; * Angela Muxworthy, New Mexico Educators FCU, Albuquerque, N.M.; * Patricia Puckett, Rapid City (S.D.) Telco FCU; * Beth Putnam, CFCU Community CU, Ithaca, N.Y.; * James Sole, Jax FCU, Jacksonville, Fla.; * David Thone, Fox Communities CU, Appleton, Wis.; and * April Lynn Watts, Market USA FCU, Laurel, Md.
Mark Bohdaynk of Table Rock FCU, Shell Knob, Mo., received the Al Jordan Leadership Award. Phil Hellmuth, associate dean emeritus, Colleges of Letters and Sciences at the University of Wisconsin, received the Achievement of Excellence Award for his service and leadership to CUNA Management School. The third-year graduating class also presented $21,246 to the CUNA Management School Scholarship Fund. The money will help smaller credit unions and individuals without financial resources attend the management school. CUNA Management School in Madison offers students a three-year course of study involving academic training and practical applications for credit union management personnel who wish to achieve senior management and leadership positions.