On-campus bank intends to help students, faculty establish credit


Community First Credit Union at the Student Union became a full-service financial institution in fall 2009 and has grown since then, offering students new opportunities to establish credit.

UNF’s Community First gives students the option of building credit without a credit card. Personal loans, ranging from car loans to loans for study abroad, are available to full-time students through the credit union, said Community First Branch Manager Carmen Dykes.

Students can borrow a minimum of $300 and a maximum of $1,000 from the credit union and pay it back over a period of 12 months.

Upon request, the borrowed sum can also be placed in a savings account for the 12-month duration, Dykes said.

This program eliminates the temptations of a credit card and is a viable option for students who don’t qualify for one, Dykes said.

Carley Barnes, a UNF English sophomore who has had an account with Community First since her freshman year, used its credit building service after facing rejection from major credit card companies.

“Overall, I am very satisfied with their ser- vices,” Barnes said.

Certain advantages credit unions offer over banks may be a draw for some students, Dykes said. Banks tend to be used for profit, whereas credit unions allow members to have a stake in ownership, and the money the credit union makes lowers interest rates for all members.

Four ATMs are available around campus for the 1,423 faculty and students who wield checking and savings accounts with UNF’s Community First, with one located outside of the campus credit union which dispenses 10 dollar bills.

A Coinstar machine, located in the Student Union, is also available.

Four computers in the lobby of the credit union are available to account holders who need a quiet place to study or eat lunch.

“The computers were originally intended for online banking purposes, but students began using them for homework,” Dykes said.

The credit union handles cash; deposits and withdrawals are accepted at any time during banking hours, Dykes said.

Parent orientations are available for students who are considering opening an account with Community First. A parent’s co-signature is necessary for a student account holder under 17 years of age.