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A chance to expand
Offering a student lending program is good for the credit union, says Whittaker, because it’s another avenue through which it can work with members.
“One of the goals of [our] credit union is to be diverse in our lending portfolio, so we’re not focused heavily in any one area,” he says.
The credit union already had established a relationship with the University of Oregon nearby. Starting a student lending program gave it the chance to serve the university’s students and their parents, and students attending other schools as well.
Oregon Community has been active in the community for years, according to Whittaker. Today, credit union staff are taking advantage of the relationships they’ve built.
The credit union offers financial awareness seminars across the community to foster relationships with members, says Whittaker. Seminars for high school students and their parents provide information about financing college. And the credit union also provides financial aid and student loan information to university students and their parents.
|"One of our goals is to be diverse in our lending portfolio," says Chris Whittaker.|
"One of our goals is to be diverse in our lending portfolio," says Chris Whittaker
“[The university has] seen value in partnering with us to be able to talk about [financial aid],” says Whittaker. He says it was a “natural progression” for the university to invite the credit union to present information to students and parents once it began offering student loans.
CUs must compete
But achieving success in a student lending program is no easy feat, emphasizes Whittaker. A credit union beginning a student loan program must offer a competitive student loan.
“There are obviously some big players that have been around for quite some time,” he notes. “So you need to be able to compete with them.”
He emphasizes the importance of transparency in student lending, especially when it comes to loan details. That’s how Oregon Community has set itself apart.
And be sure to know and understand the nuances of the student lending regulatory environment, he notes. As always, regulatory nuances can make or break your efforts.