MADISON, Wis. (8/27/08)--The credit union movement broke two barriers in August, with 200 credit unions reporting that they are operating student-run branches in more than 700 K-12 schools nationwide. The 27% increase in schools represents the year-to-date growth spurt in reported in-school credit union branches since the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) began tracking the phenomenon in 2001. CUNA’s new Model Youth Program Guide reveals that--depending on setup and hours--a single in-school branch can cost between $700 and $25,000 per year to operate. In most cases, then, the primary motive for setting up a student-run branch is educational. “There are many ways to teach children about smart money management,” said Jim Hanson, vice president of CUNA’s center for personal finance, “but making it as easy as possible for them to save is one of the best.” Hanson noted that the No. 1 factor influencing how adults choose a financial institution is convenience “Why would youth be any different?" he said. "Kids and teenagers spend a fourth of their lives in school. Having a credit union as close as the cafeteria makes money management as convenient as choosing pizza versus mac and cheese.” But financial education is not the only reason to open a branch in a local school. The branch also represents a potential competitive edge. “As far as we can tell, the credit union movement has a much greater presence in schools that the banking industry. We expect that to change, however, once banks calculate the lifelong advantage that comes from being a third-grader’s primary financial institution,” Hanson said. According to CUNA’s online directory, credit unions have set up shop in elementary, middle, and high schools in 32 states and the District of Columbia. Credit unions can report their in-school branches or update their record on CUNA’s website. Use the resource links for more information.