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40 students attend reality fair during GAC
MADISON, Wis. (4/2/12)--About 40 students participated in a financial reality fair sponsored by the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) during the Credit Union National Association's (CUNA) Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) in Washington, D.C.

U.S. Rep Jim Himes (D-Conn.) (second from left) stopped by the National Credit Union Foundation's Reality Fair during the Credit Union National Association's  Governmental Affairs Conference. Himes is pictured with, from left, Kathy Chartier, president/CEO, Members CU, Stamford, Conn.;  Tony Emerson, president/CEO, Credit Union League of Connecticut; and Joanne Todd, president/CEO, Northeast Family FCU, Manchester, Conn. (Photo provided by National Credit Union Foundation)
The fair, in its the second year, was held in the Cannon Office Building on Capitol Hill March 21, with student from nearby Roosevelt Senior High School participating. GAC attendees stopped by to observe the fair during their Capitol Hill visits, as did U.S. Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.).

A reality fair a hands-on experience in which students identify their career choice and starting salaries, then complete a budget sheet requiring them to live within their monthly salary while paying for basics such as housing, utilities, transportation, clothing and food. Additional expenditures such as entertainment and travel also are factored in.

Throughout the fair, there are temptations for additional spending. Students must learn to balance their wants and needs to live on their own. After the students have visited different booths covering components of independent living, students balance their budget, and then sit down with a financial counselor for review. 

Almost 90% of the students who participated said they will start a monthly budget, and 100% said the fair changed the way they will save and spend money.

The GAC event was sponsored by NCUF with support and expertise from:

  • The Credit Union League of Connecticut;
  • Maryland & D.C. Credit Union Association;
  • Congressional FCU, Washington, D.C.;
  • HEW FCU, Alexandria, Va.; and
  • GPO FCU, Washington, D.C.
"Giving students a taste of 'reality' in a safe environment is one of the best ways I've ever witnessed to teach students about financial responsibility," said Charles A. Mallon, Jr., Congressional FCU president/CEO.
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