Attention all students, professors and university employees: your university credit union is a great resource for your financial education, too. Because of their close ties with the higher learning community, perhaps it’s no wonder that university credit unions also have some of the best financial literacy programs in the country. The next time you need more information about buying a house, protecting yourself online or making a smart car purchase, visit the credit union website or attend a free, local seminar. Not a student or faculty member? Many university credit unions extend their membership to the local community, so be sure to check their field of membership. Chances are, you can join too.
Why a credit union?
Credit unions are not-for-profit institutions owned by their members. Any profits they make get returned to you in the form of lower interest rates and higher yields on your accounts. University credit unions tend to have especially good resources for college students, including student checking, or special perks for university employees. Many of them also have, of course, excellent financial literacy training resources for their members and the local community. Here are some of NerdWallet’s favorites.
Best for Future Homeowners: University Federal Credit Union (Austin, TX)
University Federal Credit Union has 17 branches in Austin and surrounding cities, including 1 on the University of Texas at Austin (UT) campus. Visit their website to find a complete set of resources for home ownership. Their articles can help you understand the basics of buying or selling a home. They can also give you guidance on getting an appraisal, investing in land, relocating out of state, remodeling, or the difference between types of home loans. If you’re studying at UT, be sure to check out their getREAL blog and Student Center for other great tips. Membership is open to UT students, faculty and staff, but many other people qualify through affiliation with local schools or select employee groups. Please see their membership page for complete details.
Best for Online Security: IU Credit Union (Bloomington, IN)
IU Credit Union has 11 branches in Bloomington, Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Gary, New Albany and South Bend. 5 of those branches are on-campus at Indiana University (IU). Check out their Security Center to learn more about preventing identity theft, including ways to safeguard your computer against phishing and fraud, and tips for protecting your credit card while traveling. For more information about credit scores, paying your mortgage, avoiding fees, and more, visit their Financial Education page. Membership is open to people who live or work in one of 51 eligible Indiana counties. Visit their membership page for complete details.
Best for Car Buyers: SIU Credit Union (Carbondale, IL)
SIU Credit Union has 5 branches in Carbondale, Marion, Metropolis and Energy. If you’re looking to buy a car, you’ll definitely appreciate the tools in their Resources tab. Calculate your auto loan payment with their financial calculator, learn the basics of auto pricing and vehicle history reports, or even download your necessary Illinois motor vehicle forms. SIU also sells repossessed cars and trucks in conjunction with the collections department, making it the ultimate one-stop auto shop if you feel so inclined. Membership is open to anyone who lives or works in Franklin, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Perry, Marion, Randolph, Saline, Massac, Union or Williamson counties in Illinois. Employees of member companies, family of eligible members, and members of select local organizations may also join.
Best for Loans: University of Hawai’i Federal Credit Union (Honolulu, HI)
University of Hawai’i Federal Credit Union has 1 branch in Honolulu and 2 branches on the University of Hawai’i at Manoa campus. If you have questions about the lending or refinancing process, or aren’t sure what type of loan you need, sign up for a free financial coaching session with one of the staff members. They’ll help you calculate a realistic, potential borrowing amount, along with appropriate monthly payments. For those in the mortgage market, U of H Federal also offers free home buying seminars at their McCully branch. Students and employees of the University of Hawai’i system are automatically eligible for membership, but there are many other ways to qualify. Please see their membership page for complete details.
Best for Tax Tips: UVA Community Credit Union (Charlottesville, VA)
University of Virginia Community Credit Union has 11 branches in Charlottesville and surrounding cities. To help walk you through the filing process, their Tax Time Solutions page offers easy direct deposit instructions for your refund, plus appropriate links to the IRS, the Virginia Department of Taxation, and financial planning options at the credit union. UVA Community Credit Union has also partnered with Turbo Tax Online, so you can file your taxes directly through online banking. If you’ve used Turbo Tax before, they can automatically important your data (with your permission, of course), and you’ll even receive a 15% discount. Membership is open to anyone who lives, works or attends school in the City of Charlottesville or the counties of Albemarle, Fluvanna, Green, Louisa, Madison, Nelson, and Orange. Companies within these locations may also join as business members.
Best for Mobile Security: USE Credit Union (San Diego, CA)
USE has 8 branches throughout California in college towns like Berkeley, Davis and San Diego, their primary area of membership. Their phone banking app for iPhone and Android allows you to access online banking, pay bills, transfer money, view your account balance and history, manage your debit rewards, and even view deposited check images. Mobile banking is convenient, but it can also be a security risk if you don’t take the necessary steps to protect your phone. For that reason, USE also has a complete list of mobile phone security tips on their mobile banking page. Membership is open to employees, students and alumni of the University of California system and the California State University system. There are many other ways to qualify. Please see their membership page for complete details.
Best Community Outreach Program: UT Federal Credit Union (Knoxville, TN)
UT Federal Credit Union has 7 branches in Knoxville, Martin and Memphis, including 1 on the University of Tennessee campus and 1 at the UT Medical Center. They also have 2 student-run branches at local high schools! In partnership with local churches, their Helping U Succeed program conducts free financial education programs for the underserved in Knoxville’s inner city. These aren’t all one-time seminars, either. Their in-house financial education series offers once-a-month financial seminars as part of a 20-month program. Check out their Financial Education page for more information about the program and links to helpful financial literacy articles. Membership is open to people who live, work, worship, attend school or conduct business in the 5 counties surrounding Knoxville.
Did we miss anyone?
If you know of another excellent financial literacy program at a university credit union, tell us about it!