Hands-On Financial Education
Credit unions across the country open branches in elementary, middle and high schools. Referred to as In-School Credit Union Branches or Student-Run Credit Unions, these programs provide a unique hands-on way for young people to learn about taking control of their money and financial future.
Students may open their own savings account to deposit allowances, babysitting money or earnings from a part-time job all from the convenience of their in-school credit union branch. Studies show that account experience, combined with financial education, at an early age can shape a young person’s financial identity, attitudes, and habits in a way that can last for a lifetime.
What is an In-School Credit Union Branch Program?
An in-school credit union branch program is a when a credit union provides access to deposit services, and sometimes other financial services, inside a school. In-school branches are set-up in different ways depending on the credit unions resources, and its agreement with the school.
For example, some branches look very similar to an actual credit union branch with equipment and technology to open accounts, as well as make deposits and withdraws. Other in-school branches may not allow for real-time deposits. Instead, a member of the credit union staff often along with student volunteers, set-up in a common area of the school like the cafeteria to accept deposits that are taken back to a branch for processing.
How Do Students get Involved?
Students are often selected as volunteers or hired by the credit union to help support the program. Students who are selected to work at in-school credit union branches gain valuable job skills by, serving as tellers, bookkeepers, computer operators, branch managers, or marketing managers. In addition, students learn about confidentiality, professionalism, behavior in a business environment, and the importance of good communication skills. Students also receive financial education training to provide peer-to-peer financial education in the classroom or during financial literacy workshops before or after school. These programs are often integrated with the school’s financial education activities, money management courses, and (particularly for older children) career development programs.
How Do I Start an In-School Credit Union Branch?
Setting up an in-school credit union branch is a long-term, financial education initiative for credit unions. It is a cooperative effort between the credit union and school faculty members, administrators, school board members, school district officials, students, and parents. To learn more about starting an in-school credit union branch, contact your local credit union (opens new window) and school management.
It's never too early to learn smart financial habits.
Mastering financial knowledge and gaining financial skills and habits in a hands-on learning environment help students be better prepared to make important financial choices, and participate fully in our economy and our financial system as they enter adulthood. This capability will contribute to their long-term personal financial well-being and the overall economic strength of the nation.
A U.S. Department of the Treasury study (opens new window) (You will be leaving NCUA.gov and accessing a non-NCUA website. We encourage you to read the NCUA's exit link policies. (opens new page).) evaluated the impact of classroom financial education and access to a school bank or credit union on the financial knowledge, financial attitudes, and use of financial institutions among elementary school students. Findings from the study showed they had a significant positive impact on students’ perception of savings and use of financial institutions.
Federal Guidance Encouraging Youth Savings Programs
In February 2015, the National Credit Union Administration and four other federal financial regulatory agencies, issued guidance (opens new window) to encourage federally insured depository institutions to offer youth savings programs to expand the financial capability of young people. The guidance also provides answers to frequently asked questions related to the establishment of these programs.
- Empowering Youth to Save (Infographic)
- Hands-On Learning to Build Financial Habits: Federal Resources to Encourage School-Based and Youth Savings Programs (opens new window) (You will be leaving NCUA.gov and accessing a non-NCUA website. We encourage you to read the NCUA's exit link policies. (opens new page).)
- NCUA Activities and Apps
- Transforming the Financial Lives of a Generation of Young Americans: Policy Recommendations for Advancing K–12 Financial Education (opens new window) (You will be leaving NCUA.gov and accessing a non-NCUA website. We encourage you to read the NCUA's exit link policies. (opens new page).)
- Resources for Educators and Caregivers
- Financial Education and Account Access among Elementary Students: Findings from the Assessing Financial Capability Outcomes Pilot (opens new window) (You will be leaving NCUA.gov and accessing a non-NCUA website. We encourage you to read the NCUA's exit link policies. (opens new page).) (Research Brief)