Picture a bank run entirely by kids, or teens. It might sound like something from a Disney movie, but at student-run credit union branches, it’s just business as usual. In partnership with schools in their field of membership, credit unions across the country have developed exciting, dynamic programs that give students the opportunity to run their very own credit union branch right at their school. Students are trained by credit union professionals, then “hired” to help their classmates make withdrawals and learn the basics of personal finance, all with adult supervision, of course. For safety and practicality, student-run branches are only open to the school community.
Saving money, learning leadership
Student-run credit unions are a great way for youth to establish a healthy banking relationship and learn leadership skills. Young credit union members also get the same great rates on free checking and savings accounts that their adult cohorts enjoy. To give you a taste of the great programs out there, here are NerdWallet’s top picks for student-run credit union programs by education level: elementary school and high school. We also offer an age-appropriate credit union account recommendation (savings for youth, checking for teens) for each program.
If you like what you see, and you’re an adult or a student within the credit union’s field of membership, consider joining today. If you’re not local, visit a credit union close to you and ask about their financial literacy programs.
A+ Federal Credit Union (Austin, TX)
A+ Plus Federal Credit Union runs a unique elementary school program called Green Apple Deposit Days. Staff members visit participating schools and train student tellers to help their classmates make deposits. Staff members remain on-site to supervise, and parent volunteers stop by to help too. Over 30 elementary schools in the Greater Austin Area currently participate. A+ Federal Credit Union’s Green Apple Club account is open to all youth ages 12 or younger, and it earns interest. You will probably qualify for A+ Federal Credit Union membership if you’re affiliated with a Greater Austin Area school, university or business. If not, you can qualify by becoming a member of the A+ Education Foundation.
Royal Credit Union (Eau Claire, WI)
Royal Credit Union has 16 student-run elementary school branches. Staffed by trained 4th and 5th graders, the credit unions are open once a week for students and faculty to make deposits. For every 500 deposits that students and faculty make, Royal Credit Union donates $250 to the school! Be sure to check out Royal Credit Union’s website for more information about their middle school and high school student-run programs too. Membership is open to people who live or work in an eligible Wisconsin or Minnesota county. Please visit Royal Credit Union’s membership page for complete details.
Greater Nevada Credit Union (Carson City, NV)
Carson High School students are lucky enough to have their own 250-square-foot Greater Nevada Credit Union branch. Students who work there must first take a banking class and undergo two weeks of training at a regular Greater Nevada branch. Student members can sign up for the We Rock Checking Account, which refunds out-of-network ATM fees and rewards you with up to $8 in iTunes or Amazon credits each month. Students need to make 15 debit card purchases and receive e-statements to qualify for rewards. You can join Greater Nevada Credit Union if you live or work in one of 12 qualifying Northern Nevada counties.
Firstmark Credit Union (San Antonio, TX)
Ronald Reagan High School students have a Firstmark Credit Union branch conveniently located next to their student store. As part of a business class, students provide teller and account services with guidance from Firstmark employees. Firstmark’s free checking account comes with 10 cents back on all signature-based purchases, plus free ATM access in the United States and Mexico through the Allpoint network. Students can even get debit cards with a picture of their school mascot, “Rattler”. Membership is open to students and employees in public school districts, colleges or universities in 13 local counties. Membership is also open to anyone who lives, works, worships, attends school or works for a business in Bexar County, Texas.
Granite State Credit Union (Manchester, NH)
The Granite State Credit Union student branch at Nashua High School is open to faculty and school staff, as well as students. Members can choose between Basic Checking, a traditional account with unlimited check writing, or e-checking, which sends your statements electronically and comes with free online banking and bill pay. Both accounts are free. Granite State Credit Union membership is open to anyone who lives or works in New Hampshire, and family of existing members. Members of Granite State Credit Union’s Partners at Work program may also join.
Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union, (Kailua-Kona, HI)
Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union has student branches at Konawaena High School, Kealakehe High School and Kohala High School. Students can sign up for their free checking account with online banking and bill pay, and an extended network of 25,000+ ATMs. In addition to helping their fellow students make deposits and learn about personal finance, student credit union board members are regularly seen volunteering in their communities. Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union membership is open to individuals who live, regularly work, worship, attend school or volunteer on the Island of Hawaii or the State of Hawaii. Please see their membership page for complete details and other ways to qualify.
Frankenmuth Credit Union (Frankenmuth, MI)
Frankenmuth Credit Union operates student-run branches at Frankenmuth High School and Reese High School. Both are open once a week during lunch. Frankenmuth High School students work there in conjunction with a business course, giving them even better experience as financial advisors. Students can sign up for the Student Checking account, which has no minimum balance requirements and earns rewards, too. Membership is open to anyone who lives, works, worships or goes to school in Saginaw, Tuscola, Bay or Genesee counties. Relatives of present members may also join.
Like what you see? Get involved!
Know a great student-run credit union that we missed? Tell us about them. Are you a credit union professional interested in starting a similar program? Check out the Credit Union National Association’s Model Youth Program Guide to learn more.