May 26, 2022
UFCU Pays Students to Save
The Rainy Day Savings Program challenges students to save $500 for emergencies. UFCU provides starter funds and advice to build a life-changing safety net. Since 2019, UFCU has partnered with Austin Community College DistrictTM (ACC) to inspire students to get into a savings groove. The goal is to incentivize students to maintain an emergency fund so that their educational plans are not derailed by surprise expenses. UFCU co-designed the program with ACC’s Student Money Management Office for maximum adoption.
The program is named after the expression “saving for a rainy day,” which means to keep resources in reserve for a need you might have in the future. ACC staff was aware that most financial emergencies that students face require less than $500 to resolve. These can include a car repair, a reduction in work hours, or a trip to the dentist. Staff also knew that most students don’t have that much saved up. It turns out that $500 can be an achievable savings goal if students get information — and a little boost.
Here’s how the program works: ACC students apply and are entered into the Rainy Day Savings program. UFCU opens an interest-bearing, fee-free savings account in the student’s name. ACC and UFCU have partnered together to provide students with up to $100 in incentives for taking steps that instill savings habits throughout the school year. For example, setting up direct deposit to make saving easier, completing their financial aid application, and maintaining a specific minimum balance are all tasks that, once completed, earn students a $25 deposit into their savings account.
The education portion is key. One of the requirements for participation is to meet with a financial coach to create a plan to reach a savings goal of $500. Participants must attend a one-on-one virtual welcome session explaining the goals of the program. They also receive regular emails encouraging them to save and announcing bonus incentive tasks.
The program is effective. In a recent year, participants received $17,100 in incentives and went on to contribute a total of over $187,850 to their own emergency savings accounts. The program empowers students of all ages to learn about money management, develop a positive banking relationship, and of course, save money.
UFCU launched our Rainy Day partnerships with the confidence that the financial safety nets created in this program will change lives. Planning for the unexpected requires commitment. With the Rainy Day Savings Program, students don’t have to go it alone.