Be Financially Prepared for College

shutterstock_686959522 (small).jpgThe start of a new school year is right around the corner, which also means it’s that time of the year when you have to open your wallet as wide as you can to pay for tuition and fees, room and board, books, meal plans and what feels like an endless list of other college-related items!

Of course we understand that college is expensive and not everyone is able to pay for it out of their pocket, which is why we offer the Texas Extra Credit Education Loan to our members!  This private student loan option provides an array of first-class features and benefits, including: 

  • Low Fixed and Variable interest rates*
  • 25% interest rate reduction just for graduating*
  • 25% interest rate reduction when you sign up for Auto Debit payments*
  • Choice of three repayment options and two repayment terms*
  • No origination or disbursement fees
  • Cosigner release option*

So, if you find yourself needing additional money to help cover your college costs, and all financial aid has been exhausted, be sure to check out the Texas Extra Credit Education Loan!  

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* All rates and benefits are dependent on qualified applicants meeting certain requirements and conditions. For complete details about Texas Extra Credit including program specifics, eligibility requirements, repayment examples, repayment options and benefits, or to apply, click the link above.

Unity One informs: Paying off student loans while saving for retirement

shutterstock_524164801.jpgPaying student loans and saving for retirement

How you can tackle both

Student loan debt is the oft-touted enemy of millennials, but it's becoming a problem for a growing number of older Americans, too. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, nearly 17 percent of student loan debt is currently held by borrowers age 50 and older. For many of these borrowers, this student loan debt is money borrowed for their children's or grandchildren's educations.

Whether you've just left school or are getting ready to retire, it can be hard to know which to prioritize — paying off student debt or saving for retirement. Although it's tempting to simply throw all of your money at debt first and worry about saving later, saving for retirement early can help you earn more with years of compound interest — making the need to save now important.

If you need to pay off student loans as well as save for retirement, there are a few ways you can do so:

Rein in spending — Evaluate your current spending and identify areas where you can cut back. This may mean buying less expensive food items, cutting the cable or even turning to public transportation for your work commute. Funnel your monthly savings toward retirement and loans.

Automate it — You can make saving for retirement and paying student loans easier by making use of "auto-pilot." Employer-sponsored retirement plans automatically deduct money for your retirement savings, making it easier for you to save without having to think about it. If your employer provides matching contributions, make sure you're contributing enough through payroll deduction to earn the full match. You can also automate payments for student loan debt with many lenders — many will even offer a lower interest rate when you do so!

Take advantage of tax breaks — Tax advantages are available both for your retirement savings and paying down your student loans. When you make contributions to tax-deferred retirement savings accounts, such as a 401(k) or a traditional IRA, you can lower your taxable income.* With a lower taxable income, you'll have less money going to taxes and more that you can put toward paying off student debt. Plus, your retirement savings can grow faster with tax-deferred compounding. You'll enjoy additional tax benefits when you claim a student loan interest deduction of up to $2,500 on your tax return, if you're eligible.

Allocate extra funds — When you receive extra money such as a tax refund, bonus and other cash windfall, consider putting it directly to paying down student loans and saving for retirement so you can get an extra boost.

If you're looking for a great way to earn a little extra income on your savings, Unity One is currently offering an 18-month Certificate of Deposit special for a limited time only. 

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* Taxes will be due at ordinary income tax rates upon withdrawal from a traditional individual retirement account (IRA) or employer-sponsored retirement plan. Premature withdrawals (generally, those made before age 59½) may be subject to a 10 percent tax penalty, too (does not apply to 457 plans).

5 Ways to Save on College Education

Recent economic challenges have made it even more difficult to pay for a college education. Prospective students are looking for creative ways to pay for college, as parents can’t always help. Here are some suggestions for how you can achieve your dream of a college education without breaking the bank. 


 You can see our current Student Loan Rates here





Unity One CU Informs: 5 Tips for dealing with student loan debt for #FirstTimers

If you're a college student who is about to graduate, or have recently graduated, you've probably been thinking a lot about your student loans...and how to repay them. Here are a few tips to help you deal with college debt:

  1. Get smart about your loan payments. The first step in dealing with your student loan debt is understanding how your loans work. There are a myriad of different loan types available, so make sure you know the in's and out's of your loans.

  2. Start saving during your grace period. Depending on your loan type, your lender may have a grace period between the time you graduate and the time you make your first payment. Avoid the temptation of simply ignoring the debt during this time and instead put it to use. For example, if your loan payment will be $250 each month, put that money into your savings account during the grace period. You can then use it to pay down the loan principal on your first payment.
  3. Continue to live a "college lifestyle." You're finally out of school and making money (hopefully) at your new job. You should be able to afford a nicer apartment, car or furnishings, right? Wrong. By living simply like you did in your college days,  you are able to save extra money that you can then use to pay off your student loans more quickly. 

  4. Find ways to increase your income. Sometimes this is easier said than done, but earning a little extra money each month can go a long way to helping you reduce your overall loan debt. 

  5. Explore loan forgiveness. Many times loan forgiveness programs are offered in certain areas, like low-income or rural areas, when that area lacks a certain type of profession such as: teachers, law enforcement, doctors, etc. Keep in mind there may be many requirements and stipulations required with loan forgiveness, so make sure to check with the financial aid department at your university for more details.

Unity One Credit Union offers student loans in partnership with the Higher Education Servicing Corporation. We're excited to provide this higher education loan option to our members because it offers some of the lowest rates currently available plus many outstanding borrower benefits.

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About Unity One Credit Union

Established in 1927, Unity One Credit Union is the oldest credit union in Texas. A member-driven and not-for-profit cooperative, Unity One CU served the employees and families of the BNSF Railway for 70 years. However, after transferring its corporate headquarters to Fort Worth in 1998, the credit union expanded its field of membership to include other non-railroad companies, organizations and individuals. 

Today, anyone who lives, works, worships or attends school in Fort Worth, Blue Mound, Saginaw, Haslet, Keller, Colleyville, Bedford, North Richland Hills, Southlake, St. Paul, MN and Kansas City, KS may apply for membership. Unity One CU has eight branches to serve over 30,000 members nationwide. For more information about Unity One Credit Union, visit Think outside the bank.™

Credit union informs: School Your College-Bound Child

(Source: Home & Family Finance® Resource Center)

shutterstock 116888941 smallThe SATs scores are in, the fat envelope has arrived, and soon your high-school senior will become a college freshman. You've done your best to provide your child with the common sense and confidence necessary to face the heavy dose of reality that comes with landing on a college campus. But have you had "the talk"? The money talk, that is.

While there likely have been many discussions regarding allowances, the value of a hard-earned buck, and filling up the piggy bank for a rainy day, college requires a level of financial responsibility that will be new terrain for many incoming college freshmen.

The College Board, New York, estimates that the average in-state public college tuition for the 2013-14 academic year is $22,826, while a private school college is on average $44,750. That's a hefty sum for one year of education, and it doesn't factor in the necessary extras: books, lab fees, food, room and board, and other incidentals. It's these extras that often catch students off-guard.

As a parent, you may have thought it was your responsibility to help your college-bound child secure tuition—either by providing him or her money, encouraging good academic habits for scholarships, or by co-signing student loans. However, in the big picture of college finances, tuition may be the least of the worries. With a challenging job market and slow economy, now isn't the time for your freshman to be saddled with unnecessary debt.

Deter disaster with some dialogue. Sophia Bera, a certified financial planner and founder of Gen Y Planning of Crystal, Minn., suggests that parents have regular discussions with their children about money so that the topic isn't taboo. "If money issues aren't dealt with or discussed, this only leads to bigger and bigger money issues," says Bera.

Not sure what topics to tackle? These conversation starters will get you going.

shutterstock 124152937 smallBegin with a budget: "What bills, fees, and expenses will you have?"

If your student has been relying on you for cash, don't expect him or her to know much about bills. Sit down and plan a budget together. Visit the website of the college's financial aid office, which is where things such as tuition costs are listed. Other items to consider:

  • Room and board: Will your child be living in a dorm or off-campus? There are pros and cons to both but, in a dorm, he or she won't have to worry about energy bills, security deposits, and setting up Wi-Fi. Dorms are sometimes mandated for incoming freshman, but if not, be sure your child understands all the expenses involved with living in a rental.
  • Food: Meals typically are provided with room and board when living on campus. However, students will at times need to grab lunch when in all-day classes, order pizza for a late night study session, or just take a break from cafeteria food.
  • Fees: While not all classes will have added fees, it greatly depends upon the area of study. Science and art classes tend to have fees involved since labs and equipment are required.
  • Books and supplies: Books are expensive—even used books cost a lot of money. While students usually can sell books back at the end of the semester, the money isn't available while the books are in use and the amount returned will be nowhere near what students originally paid. And then there are supplies needed for class projects and everyday homework. Toner cartridges, rulers, calculators, and poster board all can add up quickly.
  • Travel: This isn't about spring break destinations, but instead getting between college and home during semester breaks or when a little family time (or laundry doing) is needed.
  • Entertainment: As much as you hope your student will be in class, eating, or studying, the reality is that he or she also will be going to concerts, movies, and various campus events—all of which cost money.

Role assignment: "Who pays for what?"

With a better understanding of all the costs involved, your graduating senior needs to understand where the money comes from to pay for it all. If your student is taking out student loans, for instance, a good budget can help him or her not take out more than is needed simply because it's available. Regardless of the financial aid source, the most important thing is to help your child understand the breakdown of the money available during a set time. For example, if the travel budget is $1,000 a semester, calculate how many trips home that means. Does it also need to include things like gas money while on campus, bus passes for getting around, or monthly parking fees?

Jodi Okun, founder of College Financial Aid Advisors of Seal Beach, Calif., lists "financial literacy" as a priority topic in the money conversation. "Students need to begin to think about what is involved financially," says Okun, who believes that finances and budgeting are part of going to college and becoming an adult.

shutterstock 167805674 smallSeeing red: "What will you do if you run low on money?"

Even the most responsible of kids will run into money struggles once in a while: a class had more fees than expected, a student loan didn't arrive to the bursar's office in time, or a wallet was lost. Whatever it is, how will you, as a parent, advise your child? Here are two schools of thought:

  • Get a job: Campuses and local communities offer all kinds of entry-level employment opportunities for students. While students' academics need to remain a priority, a part-time job can help balance expenses and build some working experience to add to a blank résumé.
  • Sink or swim: Students who always can rely on parents to bail them out will have a harder time making financial decisions with confidence because they simply haven't had the practice. Assess the situation your student is in, and gauge your response based on the severity of the issue. Return to the budget and see if areas can be trimmed to make up for a deficit. If not, can he or she pick up a few more work hours for the next week or two, for example, to strike a balance?

Good debt, bad debt: "Are you going to get a credit card?"

A 2013 study conducted by Ohio State University shows that college-age children will take on an average of $5,689 more credit card debt than their parents and grandparents did at the same age. They also will hold on to this debt longer—well into their 70s.

Credit cards are not all bad, though. "If [a student] is super responsible with money, then using a credit card and paying it in full each month is a great way to build credit," says Bera. "However, if having a credit card will make [him or her] spend more money than earned, it might be a better plan to avoid them altogether."

When discussing credit cards with your child, stress these important tips: Use wisely and don't charge more than you can pay off when the monthly bill comes. Check out credit card options at your credit union. As not-for-profit institutions, credit unions generally offer better rates on credit cards—up to two percentage points lower than the average bank card rate.

The day you drop your child off at campus will be here before you know it. Make sure the tears you have when you drive away are happy ones, not ones filled with worry for your son or daughter's financial security. Have the money talk now, and many times—even once the college career has commenced. Listen, advise, and help your child find on-campus resources, a campus or hometown credit union for example, to help plant the seeds of independence. You helped them with their first baby steps; it's really no different when it comes to money.

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Credit union informs: Now offering private student loans!

Student loans

Unity One Credit Union has partnered with the North Texas Higher Education Authority (NTHEA) to offer private student loans to our membership.

The Texas Extra Credit Education Loan program has been designed exclusively for Texas residents attending approved colleges or universities anywhere in the country. By offering competitive fixed and variable interest rates, a variety of repayment terms and options, valuable borrower benefits and outstanding customer service, we know the Texas Extra Credit Education Loan is the right answer to your education financing needs. 

Benefits of the program include:

  • Interest rate reduction just for graduating
  • Interest rate reduction for making monthly principal and interest payments directly from a savings or checking account
  • Release of cosigner from liability after 24 on-time consecutive monthly loan payments
Learn More    Apply Online


Established in 1927, Unity One Credit Union is the oldest credit union in Texas. A member-driven and not-for-profit cooperative, Unity One CU served the employees and families of the BNSF Railway for 70 years. However, after transferring its corporate headquarters to Fort Worth in 1998, the credit union expanded its field of membership to include other non-railroad companies, organizations and individuals.

Today, anyone who lives, works, worships or attends school in Fort Worth, Blue Mound, Saginaw, Haslet, Keller, Colleyville, Bedford, North Richland Hills, Southlake, St. Paul, MN and Kansas City, KS may apply for membership. Unity One CU has seven branches to serve over 30,000 members nationwide. For more information about Unity One Credit Union, visit Think outside the bank.™

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