It might sound crazy, but 3Rivers Federal Credit Union CEO Don Cates says the best student loan it does is the loan it doesn’t do.
“It’s our responsibility to look out for our members’ best interests,” says Cates. “And sometimes that means telling them, ‘No, you don’t want us to do this for you right now.’ This is especially true for young people entering college and looking to borrow money. When you’re 18 years old and you’ve never taken out a loan before, you really can’t grasp how that is going to affect you years after you graduate. If you’re buried in school debt, it might mean having to wait a long time before you can buy a house or a car you really want. We often spend hours with prospective college students and their families to help them make the best financial decision while still being able to earn a degree.”
Lyndsey Emerick, AVP of Finance at 3Rivers, couldn’t agree more.
“We’ve created a college value calculator that will help lay out the plan: Here’s what four years of college is going to cost at your chosen institution and based on what you’re going to school for, compare that to the national average income that you can expect to earn. Then we ask, what is the return on your investment? Unfortunately, sometimes it’s negative and they have to make the right choice for their family. We really try to focus on advising our members about free and cheap options to pay for school, things like scholarships, work-study programs and federal aid.”
Emerick says another service that has saved some 3Rivers members a tremendous amount of money is refinancing college loans.
“We just started offering this recently and already we’ve seen some pretty exciting success stories. Some people are saving $15,000 to $20,000 in interest without increasing their monthly payments.”
At the opposite end of the student loan phase is planning for the later years of your life. And when you’re just graduating from college, it might not seem like a pressing issue, but it should be.
“We tell everyone to start saving yesterday,” says Carl Schlutz, CTFA, Investment and Trust Officer at 3Rivers. “We offer a full retirement plan called ‘Money Guide Pro’ and it shows people how much they’re putting into their 401(k), what they’re saving on their own and what their potential social security benefits will be, and it gives them a good idea of what their retirement will look like financially.”
Cates, Emerick and Schlutz emphasize the importance of starting planning as early as possible. And all of 3Rivers’ services are free to members.
“It’s our way of living up to our philosophy and mission of, ‘Helping people understand money matters every day,’” says Cates.
Address: 1605 Northland Blvd. Fort Wayne, Indiana 46825
Phone: (260) 490-8328
Years in Business: 82
Number of Employees: 275