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Hi Nicole,
Great idea! I’m interested in understanding the type of information you have regarding the actual percentage of applicants that could improve their profile within 180 days and the types of loans they’re being declined for. This information would provide a good start in describing the characteristics of your target market by explicitly detailing how many people realistically could improve within 180 days versus those that have a lot more work ahead of them. Similarly, what bottom-line value could your CU potentially lose by not getting these customers on the right track? How does that translate to greater membership rates or the cross-selling of other financial products? I realize this information may vary across the country, but in order for this idea to gain traction with other CUs, there needs to be some metrics to better illustrate the overall business opportunity. There’s no denying the goodwill benefits a program like this will garner, but having basic financial details will go a long way in gaining adoption by providing a toolkit for your colleagues.
Good luck!

As a first-generation college student who attended an elite university thousands of miles away from home, this issue is all too real. It’s been almost 20 years since my undergraduate days and things really haven't changed. I think one of the largest issues we face is that people in our situation feel shame to speak out about the socio-economic issues surrounding “surviving” the first years on campus. Secondly, many of us take jobs to make ends meet while in school which makes it difficult to network with our classmates during our supposed “free-time” and find it equally difficult to attend or maximize school/business supported networking events. Lastly, due to a lack of a business-minded network back home, recent graduates find themselves spending most of their time looking for work, leaving less time and availability to give back to the next generation. Per Shane’s comments, perhaps these points can help tell the story needed for people to better grasp the sense of urgency. Aside from individual university administration, partnerships could be made with organizations that traditionally engage with under-represented students through scholarships or internship placement. Thanks for adding this idea.

I like your idea and can relate to being blindsided by the curse of small purchases.

Have you considered possibly leveraging the experience and technology of a system like Mint.com? Your insights would bring the social and incentive side to the system and would present a great partnering opportunity with an established player and community.

I can envision ideas for incentives being voted on by the members of your “team” where funds from a “community pot” could be used to purchase the prize for those who achieve the agreed upon team budgeting goal. Over time, teams could compete with each other over a larger pot, further incentivizing participants and gaining more social buy-in.