MSUFCU’s New Collegiate Credit Union Enrolls Olivet College
By W.B. King
With the goal of helping college-age students better navigate their financial futures, Michigan State University Federal Credit Union (MSUFCU) recently launched Collegiate Credit Union, a one-of-a-kind, digital-first institution.
“We had been approached by universities and colleges to implement a similar system to what we have at MSU, but it just wasn’t scaleable for us to make custom brands for 10, 20 or 30 different colleges,” Ami Iceman Haueter, chief research and digital experience officer at MSUFCU, told Finopotamus.
“So we dreamed up this idea of Collegiate Credit Union to provide the same services and products to universities and colleges in a new and reimagined way,” she continued. “They could have that same (MSU) experience and we could provide financial education and trustworthy products to this generation of new members in an all-digital format.”
The $7.2 billion East Lansing, Mich.-based MSUFCU serves more than 330,000 members of which more than 75,000 are Gen Z and 101,000 are Gen Y. Collegiate Credit Union aims to serve ages 17 to 24.
Noting that the idea for Collegiate Credit Union was first discussed in 2019, Iceman Haueter explained that MSUFCU’s 2021 partnership with Jacksonville, Fla.-based Nymbus, a provider of banking technology solutions, made the concept a reality.
“By partnering with Nymbus, we were able to go fully digital — essentially it is a little credit union. Everything is unique to Collegiate Credit Union and operates independently but lives under the MSUFCU brand,” she said, adding that Nymbus drives the core banking platform.
Olivet College Makes History Again
Founded in 1844, Olivet College, named after the city in Michigan where it is located, has many educational distinctions. For example, it was the second coeducational college or university in the United States (following Oberlin College). And now it can claim it is the first institution to join Collegiate Credit Union.
The official multi-phase rollout to Olivet College students began on Friday, March 31, 2023 during “Accepted Student Day and Resource Fair,” which was attended by 300-plus prospective students and their families. Michele McCauley, executive director of communications and marketing, told Finopotamus a soft launch began in January.
“The next phases of our campus launch will include email messaging late spring/summer to prospective students, current students, and incoming first-year students, and social media messaging,” she added.
When asked how this opportunity landed on the college’s radar, McCauley pointed to Director of Career Readiness and Leadership Development, Dr. Amy Radford-Popp.
“She understands the stress college-age students have regarding not only their current financial situation, but beyond graduation when starting a new career, perhaps relocating to a new city, students loans coming due, and everything else young adults experience as they become independent,” McCauley said. “Collegiate Credit Union’s financial education programs will help our students grow confident in their saving and spending habits and empower them to plan for their financial future.”
While still early in the rollout process, Iceman Haueter said more than 100 students have signed up, equating to approximately 10% of Olivet College’s student body.
McCauley explained that marketing materials and communications provide students with a QR code for easy access to Collegiate Credit Union’s information and the online application. Students, she added, are eligible to be a member from day one.
“After selecting their affiliation with Olivet College, they will move through an easy online form collecting the needed information to complete their application. After that the application will be processed by the credit union and the student can login and begin setting up and using their account,” she noted. “In addition they will be able to access resources like spending insights, goal setting tools and educational materials.”
Promoting a New Financial Ecosystem
Collegiate Credit Union is currently speaking with a handful of other colleges and universities it hopes to onboard soon, explained Iceman Haueter. She added that while students can use branded ATMs, there will be no physical branch locations, but students will have access to in-person, on campus financial experts as needed.
Knowing that college students, unlike previous generations, are using several different financial apps on daily basis to conduct varied transactions, Iceman Haueter said Collegiate Credit Union hopes to provide a viable, trusted option in this new ecosystem.
“We have always really had a great relationship with the college-age student body. We have poured a lot of energy in supporting that journey of financial wellness,” she said. “Collegiate Credit Union was a perfect fit in moving the credit union movement forward. We are taking the same foundation of the mission of a credit union — people helping people — and putting into a accessible channel like a digital-only credit union that is hyper-focused on them.”
In an effort to further educate students on Collegiate Credit Union, McCauley said financial educators will visit Olivet College presenting workshops for students at such events as the Summer Job and Internship Fair and Welcome Week. Noting that the small Christian liberal arts college is located in a rural area, she believes this partnership will benefit students in a multitude of ways.
“Having access to a digital bank and ATMs near and far will make it easier for our students to do their banking,” she continued. “As important, opportunities for college students to improve their financial health with personalized and automatic guidance and through on-campus seminars and workshops will set our students up for success after graduation.”