DURHAM, N.C. (9/12/13)--Duke University FCU, Durham, N.C., has partnered with the Duke University Graduate School to assist graduate students with short-term loans.
These loans help students avoid seeking loans from alternative financial providers such as payday lenders. About 8% of credit unions offer payday loan alternatives, said Credit Union National Association Director of Data and Statistics Marc Shafroth. In many instances, credit unions also reach out to members that take out these loans to offer financial counseling and encourage them to take on more stable sources of financial services.
Duke University FCU, with $111.2 million in assets, offers two loans programs to graduate students: A program for housing or computer loans, and an emergency loan program.
Graduate students are paid monthly stipends. The first is issued in September after Duke has confirmed that students are on campus and ready to start classes. This can be an inconvenience for incoming students who want to put down payments on a house or apartment but need the stipend money.
The Graduate Student Assistance Program (GSAP) offers students loans of up to $2,500 for up to one year. The current interest rate on the loan is 8.75%. Students can use the money to settle into a new home or purchase a new computer.
To qualify for a GSAP loan, graduate students who receive a stipend from Duke must be members of the credit union, with a minimum deposit of $25 in a savings account.
Another loan program, the Helen & Gordon McKinney Emergency Loan, was created by the graduate school with funds from the Helen McKinney trust. The emergency loan was introduced and advertised at orientation during financial seminars.
So far, all five applications for the emergency loan have been approved.