Credit unions provide significant support to Wisconsin communities
Credit unions are member-owned financial institutions that are vested in and committed to making significant contributions to the communities they serve. Wisconsin credit unions improve the quality of life locally because they:
- Support local organizations. Wisconsin credit unions help around 3,000 charities, community projects and civic group activities each year by providing supplies, volunteer time, use of credit union facilities and other aid.
- Make charitable contributions. Credit unions improve the economic and social conditions of their members by supporting local charitable organizations.
- Serve more low-income areas. Credit unions account for 40% of all financial institution branches in low-income areas, with no government mandate requiring them to do so, even though they represent only 13.6% of Wisconsin's total market share for financial services. In contrast, only 6% of all Wisconsin banks – just 8 of the largest 20 – have any presence in these areas.
- Support more low-income and minority consumers It's estimated that credit unions save low-income consumers an estimated $44 million annually, and grant more mortgages for underserved borrowers than banks. Credit unions approve 65.2% of all requests for low-income borrowers in comparison to banks' 56.6% and approve 71.1% of all requests for minority borrowers versus banks' 57.2%.
- Fuel local economies. Credit unions pay millions each year in payroll, sales and property taxes. By making business loans that are too small to attract for-profit banks, credit unions help small businesses expand and preserve jobs in many Wisconsin communities.
- Assist new Americans. By translating information about loans, opening savings accounts and providing low-cost wire transfers, credit unions help new Americans establish a financial foothold in Wisconsin.
- Help low-income tax filers. Credit unions offer free tax preparation assistance and free refunds via direct deposit to help Wisconsinites avoid costly "refund anticipation loans." These short-term, high-interest loans are heavily marketed in low-income communities by tax preparation firms and can cost filers up to $250 – nearly 10% of a typical refund for a single worker making less than $32,000 a year. This credit union service saved 57,642 Wisconsin consumers $14.4 million in preparation fees and refund anticipation loan costs in 2010.
- Provide more than $100,000 in local scholarships annually. Many students receive scholarships toward college from their local credit unions.
- Supply accessible, affordable student loans. When federal loans aren't enough, Wisconsin credit unions step in to help students finance their education.
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