Tampa, FL -- You could call it banking for students -- by students. A new, and innovative program at the University of South Florida is putting business majors in charge of the campus's credit union.
"It's an amazing opportunity, especially just being a sophomore," said Catherine Casingal, part of the first group of students to join the program.
By the time Casingal is a senior, the USF accounting major may be running her own bank branch. Not a greeter or a teller, but an actual money manager at the Marshall Center Branch of the USF Federal Credit Union.
"With the bank side of that, you can look into different things like fraud and like identity theft and stuff like that. So, that would eventually be my focus," she said.
Organizers hope to attract more students like Casingal to the USF business school, with what they're touting as the first partnership of its kind in the nation. Students, earning class credit while gaining valuable practical experience.
It requires a three-year commitment, and working several hours a week.
"And they may go into a different track. They may go into the marketing area, or they may go into information technology. We're going to facilitate that for them," said Credit Union President and CEO Rick Skaggs.
So, how do other students feel about their young peers handling their finances?
Senior Javier Arroyo says it's a great idea, but wants assurances that someone is overseeing the operation.
"Mistakes still happen, so you need someone to be held accountable for it," said Arroyo.
USF student Adam Debbs agreed. Great idea, he said, "and as long as there's regulations being followed and it is being overseen by higher-ups, it's not a big deal."
Not to worry. The credit union Board of Directors will maintain oversight.
But make no mistake, within three years, they say, the Marshall Center Branch will be fully managed by students.
"It's one thing to sit in a classroom, but to actually be using what you learned is another thing," said Casingal.
And the impact on the students' future?
"They're going to be so far ahead of those that have not had this opportunity it's going to be a real good way to place them in a good paying job when they graduate," said Skaggs.
If successful, the same opportunity may be offered at USF's St. Petersburg and Sarasota campuses as well.
To see some of the pros, cons and differences between credit unions and traditional banks, click here: