Friday, March 1, 2024

SECU - Consider This: Chapter 24 - The FAFSA Unicorn ... different by design! 

Esse Quam Videri - "To Be, rather than to seem."

So, what is FAFSA? ... and what does it have to do with SECU? 

"The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, is a form students must fill out to get federal financial aid for college. The U.S. Department of Education, colleges and state agencies use the FAFSA to collect financial information about you and your family to determine how much financial aid for which you can qualify."

Do you think that a college education is important to the children of many SECU members? Well. if you think that a college education can be "a ticket out", then FAFSA is the key; paying for college is an expensive burden to most working families. Filling out the form is a ritual conducted each Fall all across America by folks with college hopeful teens.

The correct filing of the form can make the difference in getting into a college. It is not a simple form and most parents have no clue as to what's involved. Opportunity or problem for SECU? The current leadership would probably - much like the tax prep program - say "let someone else help" the members.   In the past, SECU chose instead to help, to wade in on behalf of SECU members. The Credit Union partnered with the N.C. College Foundation  [CFNC link] to train staff, provided computers, opened branches on weekends, and paid the staff who volunteered to help the members double overtime. Worked well, everybody "won" - that's a unicorn! And by the way, the "idea" didn't come "from Raleigh", it originated from the local branch staffs who recognized the member need. Many of the staff had their own kids who needed to apply, too!

Providing the FAFSA service had some costs and for those "most profitable year-type" folks, it didn't appear to help the bottom line. But, in addition to the vast member goodwill and loyalty created...  go back to the CFNC link and check out the organizations in North Carolina with which SECU had the opportunity to work on FAFSA - every N.C. high school, every N.C. Community College, and every college/university - public and independent - in North Carolina.!  

Those institutions all learned about SECU and saw the commitment of SECU to the people and to the educational and economic fabric of North Carolina. And, did you happen to notice the quote with which CFI leads on its website - "Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others - Booker T. Washington".   Esse Quam! 

Think helping with FAFSA was better "marketing" than "We Are SECU" or a Super Bowl ad? 

If you're in doubt of the impact of this service, if you're that "type"; let  me point out one more thing - this little line item on the SECU January, 2024 financial statement: "Savings Deposits 529"  - $148,224,805.

By earning the trust of everyone in the North Carolina educational community, SECU was selected as the base savings account provider on the North Carolina 529 Plan, which is a tax- exempt educational savings plan. Most states have 529 plans for their citizens, last time I checked no credit union in the Country was a core provider.

Ya' reckon $148 million in deposits, probably helps the bottom line?

... hey, but there is an even better story on this topic tomorrow! Esse Quam!