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Student credit union open in Penn-Trafford High School

| Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Photo: Chris Foreman, Penn-Trafford Star Senior Matthew Senkow helps freshman Katie Raspotnik with a deposit at Warrior Cash Stash, the new student branch of the Westmoreland Community Federal Credit Union that opened in the Penn-Trafford High School cafeteria on Oct. 25. Matthew and juniors Lucas Johnson and Kaely Pockl are tellers for both the student and Harrison City branches of the credit union.

A new partnership with the Westmoreland Community Federal Credit Union is enabling Penn-Trafford High School students to catch up on their banking needs in the school's cafeteria.

The credit union's first student branch — the second of its type in Westmoreland County — opened last week to provide students with on-campus banking options during lunchtime on Wednesdays and Fridays.

Three students, who are employees of the credit union, will staff the branch, which Student Union members dubbed “Warrior Cash Stash.”

The new branch is an extension of the credit union's financial-literacy program in the school, which started in 2009 with classes taught by a credit-union employee.

“It's always been one of our goals to get into a school and start a student branch,” credit-union CEO Maria LaVelle said.

The student credit union branch at P-T is the second in the county and one of about 50 statewide. In February, the Norwin Teachers Federal Credit Union opened a branch in the Norwin High School cafeteria.

Though interest in financial-literacy education is increasing, only four states — Missouri, Tennessee, Utah and Virginia — require students to take at least one semester course devoted to personal finance, according to the JumpStart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy nonprofit organization.

In January, a Pennsylvania task force on economic and financial-literacy education recommended that the state require every high school student to complete a personal-finance course as part of the graduation requirements.

The student employees said the branch is important for starting them and their peers on a good path to manage their money once they're living on their own.

“A lot of students, they have an account that's more managed by the parent than them, so that's the good thing here,” senior Matt Senkow said. “It's more managed by the student.”

As is the case with traditional credit-union memberships, the students can open checking or savings accounts or participate in the Christmas- or vacation-club savings programs. The students also can sign up for a credit card that has a $250 limit and 7.99-percent interest rate.

Lucas Johnson, a junior who works at the Warrior Cash Stash and who is the high school Student Union's representative to the Penn-Trafford School Board, said having a membership will help students keep track of their money.

“It's nice for the fact that you can see your transactions and how much you're spending,” he said.

Chris Foreman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8671, or cforeman@tribweb.com.

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