Credit union not hit by money crisis

Despite a recent shakeup in the economy, the university’s federal credit union said they have been minimally affected and encourage students to join.

Since 1935, Florida A&M University’s credit union has established accounts with graduates, employees of the university, the Tallahassee chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and churches, like Bethel Missionary Baptist Church.

President and CEO, Gene Telfair, said the credit union has more than 5,000 members. He said a credit union is owned by its members as opposed to a bank that relies on a group of shareholders.

“Our fund is probably stronger than banks,” Telfair said. “We are a consumer-based type of organization as opposed to corporate.”

Telfair said the union has surpassed the minimum capital required, by 6 percent. Capital is the amount of money a credit union must keep reserved.

He also said the union has already restructured some member’s debts in order to alleviate their credit issues.

Holding an account with FAMU’s credit union benefits the university, Telfair said.

“We bought a table for the (upcoming) inauguration,” he said, “And we hire students for part-time positions to supplement their income.”

Telfair said donations and sponsorships are provided to the university through the credit union.

More university faculty members have accounts than students and Telfair admitted the credit union could do a better reaching out to students.

Some students are reluctant to join, because they associate the university’s financial issues with the credit union.

Tolu Akinwale, 19, a second-year political science and criminal justice student from St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, said she does not trust her money in the union.

“(FAMU) already gave me money late,” she said referring her refund check. “I don’t want to put it into their credit union.”

Telfair said students should not associate university issues with the credit union.

“We are separate entities,” Telfair said in reply to students uncertainty. “We have our own separate charter [the National Credit Union Administration] and our own board of directors. Our financial situation is separate.”

Latrina Timmons, 20, a junior studying spanish, said the financial institution need to be publicized more.

“I know nothing about FAMU’s credit union,” she said. “I don’t know anyone who banks there.”

Keon Lewis, 24, said he has recently considered membership.

“It’s a pretty good bank and I rather support my university,” he said. Currently, Lewis has accounts with Florida Commerce Credit Union, Wachovia and Washington Mutual.

“It’s a well kept secret,” the senior political science student from Miami said.

Lewis said as long as FAMU’s credit union remains insured, he is not worried about opening an account.

The federal credit union is insured by NCUA, a U.S. government agency.

A member for more than a year, King McCaskill, a senior librarian technician in FAMU’s library, said he has been pleased with the service the university’s credit union has provided so far.

“I borrowed money to buy a boat and I didn’t have any problems,” he said. “I feel like I’m more than a member.”

McCaskill said that rates would be higher for a loan at a bank. He said the credit union approved the loan in one day and the money was available the next.

The union offers online banking, debit and credit cards, payroll deductions, international wires, club/organization accounts and other services.

For more information about FAMU’s credit union, go to