As CUs Mark First Youth Week, Survey Shows Financial Awareness Sorely Lacking

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It appears the first-ever National Credit Union Youth Week (April 15-21) couldn't have come at a better time.

At the same time credit unions across the country were heading into classrooms to teach financial education, the Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy released a new survey of 12th graders' level of knowledge of basic personal finance.

The study, conducted by Dr. Lewis Mandell of the University at Buffalo School of Management, found that on average students answered 50.2% of the questions correctly, meaning most got an "F." Among the findings:

* 67.8% use a credit card (12.1% have their own card). More than one third (35.9%) of the 2002 students have an ATM card.

* Nearly 75% of the students have a savings and/or checking account with a bank.

* Almost two thirds (65%) said they felt either "very sure" (18.4%) or "somewhat sure" (46.6%) about their ability to manage their own finances. The remaining one third said they were either "not too sure" (24.6%) or "not sure at all" (10.5%).

Meanwhile, to mark National CU Youth Week:

In Washington, D.C., NCUA Chairman Dennis Dollar visited the Georgetown University Alumni and Student Federal Credit Union. The $6.5-million student-run credit union was chartered in 1983. According to credit union officials, more than 80% of incoming freshmen open accounts with the credit union. "Credit unions have a tremendous opportunity to serve and develop these students into leaders of the institutions, as well as sound financial planners who understand the ABCs of balancing a checkbook, borrowing and saving," said Dollar.

* In Jefferson City, Mo., as Gov. Bob Holden proclaimed April 14-20 Credit Union Youth Week in Missouri, credit unions across the state were hosting financial workshops in area schools, as well as special booths and presentations. The Missouri CU System said that approximately 8,000 students in Missouri receive financial education from CU volunteers each year.

* In Sayreville, N.J., Raritan Bay Federal Credit Union, along with the Credit Union Affiliates of New Jersey, helped raise financial awareness at South Amboy Middle and High Schools. CUANJ Director of Education and Training Mary Moulds made a presentation to students, that included games and an open discussion on the importance of financial literacy.

* In Aston, Penn., Sun East FCU hosted an event for children that included games, refreshments and prizes. Staff members were on hand to answer questions about opening accounts, student loans, financial planning and buying a first car.

* In Ridgecrest, Calif., AltaOne FCU continued its sponsorship of the High School Financial Planning Program at Kern Valley High School.

In addition, it opened all of its branches for tours from local schools. Nine classrooms of students toured three branches.

Mascot Seemore Savings was on hand to introduce the credit union's Credit Union Beginners (CUB) Club, which offered a $5 gift certificate to kids depositing $25 or more into a new or existing CUB account.

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