RUSACU office to close in May
The Rutgers University Student and Alumni Credit Union (RUSACU) location within the Rutgers Student Center will close on May 20, and with its departure students may have new banking options on campus.
RUSACU, a credit union exclusively open to students and alumni of the University, merged with Affinity Federal Credit Union last year for financial reasons. The University's Department of Student Life felt this merger violated its lease to stay in the student center, said Kristen Clarke, former RUSACU board member.
"The department feels RUSACU would no longer be [related to] Rutgers now that they're with Affinity," said Clarke, a School of Arts and Sciences junior.
Instead of closing the RUSACU student center location when the lease ended in December, Student Life allowed the credit union to stay there until May 20 to properly serve students, Clarke said.
The Newark and Camden campus locations of RUSACU were taken over by Affinity and will not close, she said.
"It's convenient to have on campus," she said. "They have an ATM in the student center and it's completely surcharge free for any student who is part of the credit union. In New Brunswick, there are so many ATMs on campus, but you're charged to use it by the bank."
For these reasons, Clarke said it is important to have a credit union for students on campus.
"Credit unions also offer higher dividends and better interest rates for customers [than banks]," she said. "They are also 400 times greater than a for-profit banking institution. All the profits credit unions make goes back to shareholders. It caters to students, and they can give you car and education loans."
The Department of Student Life is surveying student opinions of something that would take the place of RUSACU in the student center, said Kerri Willson, director of Student Involvement.
She said the space could be used for lockers, rapid charging stations for cellphones and laptops, copy services, a credit union or a bank.
"If a credit union is what [students would be] seeking, Affinity would have the right to put in a proposal," she said. "They could be the credit union."
Although Affinity, which accepts University student and alumni accounts, does not have a branch on campus, students can still access their locations in New Brunswick.
"There's already a branch across from St. Peter's and another opening in the downtown area," Clarke said.
The Rutgers Federal Credit Union (RFCU), which serves anyone who receives a paycheck from the University, has applied to the National Credit Union Association to change its bylaws so it could serve students and alumni in the future, said Marie Bedatsky, president and CEO of RFCU.
"We want to serve students, but we've always turned them away because of our bylaws," she said. "It would be more convenient for students."
The RFCU has locations on College Avenue and Busch on the New Brunswick campus as well as one on the Newark campus, she said.
"We would love the support of the students," she said. "The soonest [we can serve students] is the soonest we get the support we need."
At the RFCU, students would have access to the same services the credit union currently offers to University faculty and staff, like a surcharge-free ATM network and no minimum requirements for deposits, Bedatsky said.
Clarke said the RFCU tried to merge with the RUSACU but was unsuccessful.
"They're trying to go through the back door here because the merger was unsuccessful," she said. "They're trying to take advantage of the situation, but I don't think it's necessary because Affinity is still going to accept students and alumni."
Willson said University students who are also employed by the University still have a viable option in the RFCU.
"I don't know how many accounts the RUSACU had of the 36,000 students that go here," she said. "But anybody who gets a check from Rutgers can open an account there."