SESLOC Creates Financial DVD For College Students

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Too many distractions and not enough real information about managing your money.

That's what faces incoming freshmen at every college and university across America, according to one credit union. In addition to living away from home for the first time, freshmen face classes, tons of homework, new roommates, iffy cafeteria food and, according to one CU, too often make a bad choice regarding a new credit card or bank account.

Carla Swift is marketing director at the SESLOC Federal Credit Union and also teaches public speaking at Cal Poly University. Swift heard one too many stories from her students about bad bank charges, bad credit reports and ultimately, bad credit for them. When student-written editorials related to the issue also began to appear in the Cal Poly campus newspaper, SESLOC decided it was time to act.

"I kept hearing all these horror stories and we wanted to do something about it," she said.

That's the goal of a new video released on DVD by SESLOC FCU, which has a branch at Cal Poly. The eight-minute DVD is titled "Money to the Max!" and stresses forming a strategy for your finances and the importance of a sound and healthy credit report.

Swift said that many students simply don't know what a credit union is, what it does or that they can join one right at the student union. "We're your credit union. We're here to help you out," Swift said.

The DVD teaches students how to get low-cost overdraft protection, obtain a free credit report, correct a credit report error, create a spending plan and how to reduce credit card costs.

The DVD was produced by David Thayer, owner of Aspect Media Factory, a film and television production company. Thayer is a former design teacher at Cal Poly University and a member of SESLOC for more than 10 years. He and Swift became friends through the credit union and worked on non-profit projects together. "He's just passionate about credit unions. He's convinced they are the only way to go," Swift said with a laugh.

Thayer said credit unions have a completely different approach when it comes to attracting new members and how to treat them when they come in to the branch. Like Swift, he believes incoming college students are vulnerable to making poor decisions when it comes to their finances.

"I wanted to let people know about credit unions and how cool they are," he said.

Swift said the DVD is a cool and modern way of communicating the credit union message to students who are on the go and use technology every day. SESLOC staffers decided to use real students in the film telling their own horror stories of bad money management and the consequences of bad credit.

The DVD also features street interviews with students and a brief history of credit unions. While the production crew had a script to get shot, Thayer and Swift felt it would be a good way to get the students' attention if the film featured real students and not hired actors.

"We just let them talk about what they knew about credit unions and credit in general," Thayer said.

Swift said SESLOC FCU staff hand the DVDs directly to students at the campus branch office or during Finance Fairs held each semester.

An on-campus advertising campaign was placed in the student newspaper to promote the DVD, which is free.

"They don't have to join to get one. Once they come in, they say 'Wow! How come no one told me about this?'" Swift related. "Hopefully we can make a big splash and teach students about credit unions."

SESLOC FCU was founded in 1942 with 36 school district employees meeting in a high school library to hold elections. Today it serves 28,000 members with $340 million in assets.

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