ALBANY, N.Y. (10/14/11)--Paula A. Stopera, president/CEO of Capital Communications FCU (CAP COM), Albany, N.Y., led her daughter’s college search in 2006. Stopera was shocked by the time and knowledge the college planning process required. She realized then her credit union could serve as a valuable resource in helping for its membership. Today, $905 million asset CAP COM’s College Bound Program has two full-time specialists and hosts a series of workshops from January through October that help high school students sort through the process of applying and paying for college. “It is one of the most popular programs we have, and it is definitely a differentiator for us,” Stopera told News Now
. The workshops $905 million asset CAP COM FCU offers include:
* College Prep--High school sophomores and juniors learn about choosing the right school, applying for college, completing the college interview process and finding scholarships. * College Admissions --This workshop for high school seniors provides information on the college admissions process, tips on applying for scholarships and completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application form. * FAFSA and Budgeting--Parents learn about the FAFSA process while students attend a budgeting workshop. * College Experience--High school seniors learn what to expect in their first year of college, along with available college funding options and credit union accounts. * Essay Writing Workshop--Presented by college admissions professionals, the workshop offers guidance on writing a successful application essay.
The workshops are so well attended they have been moved from the credit union to a local hotel, said Stopera. College-bound student families also meet with CAP COM FCU’s college specialists to discuss the application process, funding and loan options, and products and services. College Specialist Kim Donah said the college search-and-selection process is a negotiation process--and that’s one of the chief reasons she believes members value the College Bound service. “It’s not just about grades,” Donah said. “Colleges take a holistic approach to selecting their students. They want a college community of that mirrors the community at large. And we do help them with the process of financial aid and lending. Sometimes families can go back to universities and ask for more assistance. It’s all part of a process.” Donah estimated she will meet with high school sophomores and juniors two to three times and seniors four to six times. The College Bound program is the cornerstone of a life-stages relationship with the members, Donah said. “We stay in touch with the students through college and graduation and starting career. When they buy their first car, they buy it from us.” Households that participate in the College Bound program use an average of 4.3 products and services from the credit union, compared with 2.86 products and services used by households that don’t take part in the program, Stopera said. But Stopera said the relationships built through the College Bound program go beyond products and services. “It’s gratifying to give every student a chance,” she said. “Some of the most successful students in college are the children who get Cs and Bs in high school. We help them as much as we help the ones who get As and Bs. The good news is that there are success stories abounding within our membership’s families. And that’s pretty cool.”