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Back-to-school costs rise CUs are helping
MADISON, Wis. (7/19/12)--With back-to-school costs for students on the rise, several credit unions and credit union organizations nationwide are pitching in with schools supplies or programs to help defray the costs.

About 46% of consumers surveyed said that they planned to spend more this year than they did last year, according to a survey by Pricegrabber (LoneStar Leaguer July 17). Also, 63% said they were budgeting up to $500 for school-related gear--up from 48% last year, while 20% said they had between $500 and $1,000 set aside for back-to-school purchases.

Allocations for electronics are a big reason the back-to-school budget is higher, the survey indicated. The Pricegrabber survey showed 40% of respondents said they plan to buy new laptops or tablet computers for their kids; 28% of those consumers said they were looking to obtain some sort of smartphone, and 10% were considering the purchase of a new desktop computer.

Some examples of credit unions helping members are:

  • FirstLight FCU, a $760 million asset El Paso, Texas-based credit union, offers a Back-2-School credit card promotion (LoneStar Leaguer July 17). "If members use their FirstLight FCU credit card during July 1 to Aug. 31 they get a 2% drop on their annual percentage rate or double their reward points for back-to-school purchases that fall under certain merchant codes (including school supplies, books, electronics, clothing)," said  Alex Yu, marketing specialist at the El Paso-based credit union. Yu said the credit union has offered the Back-2-School credit card promotion for the past three years and it has been well-received.
  • The 100% for Kids Utah Credit Union Education Foundation awarded Beehive Elementary in Salt Lake City, Utah, with a grant to purchase books for the entire school last year. Janet Christensen, a teacher, applied for and received the grant.  She started "Read the Book, See the Movie" at Beehive at the beginning of the school year, promising the students that after they finished reading the book, they could have an outdoor movie party with their families. More than 30 students and their families showed up for the event, featuring the movie, "The City of Ember" presented on a giant, outdoor, inflatable screen on the school's lawn. Liz White, 100% for Kids Foundation director, said the foundation board was impressed with the creative idea. "It surprises me that more schools don't do something like this. There are so many books being made into movies, it's a great way to make reading fun for kids," White said.
  • Apple FCU, a $1.35 billion asset credit union base in Fairfax, Va., earlier this month launched its annual backpack and school supply drive benefiting needy kids (BusinessWire July 2). The credit union is encouraging the public to drop off backpacks and cash donations at the nearest Apple branch. For the first time, Apple said it will match up to $5,000 made in contributions.
  • Ouachita Valley FCU, a $141 million asset credit union based in West Monroe, La., this month began its eighth annual Sunny School Supply drive to gather school supplies for needy students ( July 18). The credit union received more than 350 applications for school supplies and is asking the community to help it raise more than $8,000 to fulfill those applications.
Credit Union Marketing Resources' Back to School Express Loan Campaign at CU SuperMarket" is a one-stop, cost-efficient way to reach a credit union's members, said the Texas Credit Union League (LoneStar Leaguer July 17). Marketing materials available include: postcards, statement inserts, lobby posters, Web banners, T-shirts and other items. Credit unions can use the copy already written or supply their own. Credit Union Marketing Resources also will customize all marketing materials with a credit union's logo and contact information.


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