MESA Program Looks to Grow in NW, Helping Students Lighten Debt Load

Student debt is set to surpass more than $1.2 trillion, in the U.S., becoming such a hot topic that is helped power one Presidential campaign and has remained a top talking point for the general election.

But the true impact is most felt among the families and students struggling to find a way to pay for college. Many are looking for alternative ways to afford tuition. That’s where the MESA Program comes in.

MESA—or matched educational savings accounts—can help bridge the funding gap. With the help of the Northwest Credit Union Foundation and Northwest credit unions, the MESA program can help turn $100 into more than $300 for books or tuition.

Credit unions in Montana, for example, have already seen success with the MESA Program. Nolan Glueckert, MCUCD Community Development Manager with the Montana Credit Union Network, shared some of those statistics from Montana credit unions.

“In Montana, we’ve been able to build a pretty impressive program,” notes Glueckert. By partnering with six of the state’s colleges and universities, Montana has already been able to fund 550 MESA accounts. Four hundred of those have already been filled, with those students saving a total of $157,176 and receiving $521,400 in matching funds. And, Glueckert notes, “the program continues to expand on all levels.

MESA is about building membership and providing financial education, Glueckert explained. “Credit unions offer post-secondary students some gap funding for their education and a chance to learn how to manage their personal finances. Can you think of a better opportunity to make a difference and develop a lasting relationship with a member?”

With the help of the Northwest Credit Union Foundation and Northwest credit unions, the MESA program can help turn $100 into more than $300 for books or tuition.

Denise Gabel, Executive Director of the Northwest Credit Union Foundation, stressed the importance of growing the MESA Program here in the Northwest, which she described as “getting off the runway” when the program was announced.

“This is another practical solution that credit unions can bring to their members,” Gabel said. “Coupled with opportunities to provide financial education, grants and supporting communities in times of need, the MESA Program is a natural fit for the ‘People Helping People’ philosophy.”

Lighthouse Community CU, North Coast CU, and Horizon CU in Washington, along with Trailhead CU and Mid Oregon CU in Oregon have already committed to the program.

Ready to learn more? Contact Kaitlin Ramos, NWCUA Program Manager at 503.350.2208 or kramos@nwcua.org to get started.

Questions about this story? Contact Eric Horvath: 503.350.2222, ehorvath@nwcua.org.

Posted in NWCUA.