Lending

Match Students with the Right Loans

Oregon Community CU builds lasting relationships with student-members.

August 30, 2011
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Attracting student borrowers is a difficult task, credit unions say. But they’re exploring a variety of ways to reach that important demographic.

The real challenge is to get the word out and make sure you have the marketing resources, says Ethan Nelson, director of credit administration at Oregon Community Credit Union, Eugene, Ore.

The credit union’s Chris Whittaker, director of lending services, and other credit union student loan specialists say that to reach students, they use a combination of:

  • Direct mail
  • Brochures
  • Campus financial literacy classes
  • On-campus presentations
  • Seminars
  • On-campus ATM messaging
  • On-campus merchandising
  • Participation in student publications
  • Website
  • Online banner ads
  • Webinars
  • E-mail
  • Social media (Facebook, Twitter) 
Ethan Nelson
The real challenge is getting the word out, says Ethan Nelson.

Nationwide, technology-based marketing is becoming more prevalent, credit unions say. Some believe it’s the most effective marketing method, in particular for reaching younger demographics. This parallels financial institutions’ increasing use of social media, e-mail, and websites to communicate with members.

Students in dire need of loans

It’s important that credit unions do reach these younger demographics, however. Today, only 9% of credit union members are ages 18 to 24, and a disturbing 70% of nonmembers in that age group are “not at all familiar” with credit unions, according to CUNA’s 2011-2012 Survey of Potential Members.

And students are in dire need of private loans. As college tuition costs rise and federal financial aid declines, students are desperately looking for other financing options and financial management solutions.

Student loans also might be the start of a long-term relationship with student-members. The average 2009 graduate left school with $24,000 worth of debt. Because average student-loan debt is so high, it takes students a long time to pay back their student loans—and even longer still with today’s struggling economy. 

Oregon Community certainly understands the importance of these relationships. That’s why it’s moving cautiously with its student lending services, says Nelson. It’s all about matching students with the right loans.

“We’re not interested in putting out a whole lot of student loans,” says Nelson. “We certainly want to grow [the program] outward from the University of Oregon, but we want to do it carefully.” 

Next: A chance to expand

Ethan Nelson
"The real challenge is getting the word out," says Ethan Nelson.

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory (www.appreciationatwork.com/assess) will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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