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PCUA REAL Solutions may complement Better Choice program
HARRISBURG, Pa. (4/10/09)--Leaders from the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) and the state’s Treasury Department recently discussed how the national REAL Solutions program can complement Pennsylvania’s Credit Union Better Choice Program. The REAL Solutions program offered by the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) works with state leagues to help credit unions serve people of modest means with products such as alternatives to payday lending, volunteer income tax assistance and home loan payment relief.
Sharing information about AmeriChoice FCU’s student branch at Central Penn College were, from left, Mike Wishnow, Pennsylvania Credit Union Association senior vice president, communications and marketing; Keith Welks, the state’s deputy treasurer; Kim Bindl, AmeriChoice financial literacy manager; Jim Williamson, the state treasury’s director of policy; and Carol Fastrich, AmeriChoice vice president of marketing. (Photo provided by the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association)
The Better Choice program, which grew out of a collaborative effort between PCUA and the Pennsylvania Treasury Department, offers short-term loans that help people make the transition away from high-cost payday loans to fairly priced credit union services. Deputy Treasurer Keith Welks and Director of Policy for Treasury Jim Williamson discussed the complementary programs at a meeting hosted by PCUA (Life is a Highway April 9). Earlier, Treasurer Rob McCord met with members of Pittsburgh FCU in Mount Oliver to learn how Better Choice payday lending alternatives helped them save money. McCord noted that Better Choice loans save borrowers an average of 80 cents in fees and costs per dollar borrowed. A payday loan for $500 typically costs consumers $15 for every $100 borrowed for a two-week term, which adds up to $450 over 90 days. In comparison, a $500 Better Choice loan costs consumers $42.50 for 90 days and leaves them with 10% of the loan, or $50, in a savings account at the end of that term. The list of the 79 credit union participants is on PCUA's website. To date, participating credit unions have made nearly 15,000 loans worth a combined $6.8 million. The Treasury Department’s Welks and Williamson also visited in-school branches operated by Members 1st FCU at Mechanicsburg High School and by AmeriChoice FCU at Central Penn College.
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