HARRISBURG, Pa. (8/14/09)--Credit unions have issued more than 20,000 loans, for a total of $9.3 million since the Credit Union Better Choice payday loan alternative program began in 2006. By using the credit union option instead of payday lenders, consumers saved $6.7 million in the process. Since the program began, 82 credit unions with 215 locations have offered the program, with additional participants continuing to sign on, the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) announced Thursday. During the first six months of 2009, the program loaned 5,291 loans totaling $2.5 million, PCUA said. Pennsylvania consumers saved an average 80 cents in loan fees and costs for every dollar borrowed through the program. In addition to the $6.7 million saved from fees, borrowers placed $937,281 into savings accounts for future needs. "When consumers are in need of cash, credit unions have stepped in to fill this void with affordable short-term loans," said Jim McCormack, PCUA president/CEO. He noted the credit unions are offering financial coaching to borrowers to help them budget and manage money. The program is a partnership between PCUA and the Pennsylvania Treasury Department. It will be the topic of the next "Pennsylvania Newsmakers" program airing across the state. Keith Welks, deputy state treasurer, and Mike Wishnow, PCUA senior vice president of communications and marketing, are featured explaining the results of the Credit Union Better Choice program and how it has helped state employees who faced payless paydays last month during the state's budget impasse.