VyStar Credit Union Receives Grant from U.S. Department of Treasury to Launch Innovative Credit-Builder Program

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund) recently awarded VyStar Credit Union a grant of $383,223 through its Small Dollar Loan Program (SDL Program). This funding aims to empower CDFIs like VyStar to enhance consumer access to fair financial services and offer viable alternatives to high-interest small dollar loans.

In response to the detrimental impacts of payday loans in Florida, with Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) soaring up to 300%, VyStar Credit Union proactively created a solution aimed at curbing the adverse effects of these high-cost loans. The SDL Program Award will fund the launch of VyStar Credit Union’s innovative Credit-Builder Loan program, specifically designed to provide members with a fair and affordable alternative to high-cost credit options, promoting financial stability and inclusion.

“These important awards enable more Certified CDFIs to offer alternatives to costly payday lenders. Notably, 32% of all award funds went to Certified CDFIs headquartered in persistent poverty counties, exceeding the statutory requirement by over threefold,” said CDFI Fund Director Pravina Raghavan. “With a quarter of unbanked or underbanked American households, our program aims to broaden access to affordable financial products and services. These awards significantly boost access to small dollar loans in underserved communities.”

The newly launched Credit-Builder Loan is a short-term loan to help members build repayment history and increase their credit score. It was created to help members with limited financial resources meet their immediate financial needs while simultaneously encouraging them to save money. The Credit-Builder Loan also provides access to VyStar Credit Union’s integrated Financial Fitness platform which includes financial education resources, free credit counseling, and personalized goal setting technology.

“The VyStar Impact Lending Team is excited to have the Credit-Builder Loan in our toolkit,” said VyStar Credit Union Senior Vice President of Impact Lending Heather Horovitz. “We have members who want to achieve the dream of home ownership come to us looking for ways to consolidate debt or build up their credit score. Our goal is to equip them with the tools necessary for long-term financial health.”

Launched in fiscal year (FY) 2021, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s CDFI Fund has provided more than $40.2 million in SDL Program awards to CDFIs through the combined FY 2023 and FY 2024. The 66 award recipients are headquartered in 25 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

To learn more about qualifying for a Credit-Builder Loan or VyStar Credit Union’s Financial Fitness resources go to vystarcu.org/impact-lending or visit a VyStar Credit Union branch.

Written by
Lizeth George
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The League of Southeastern Credit Unions & Affiliates represents nearly 300 credit unions throughout Alabama, Florida, and Georgia. It has a combined total of almost $200 billion in assets and 12.4 million members. LSCU provides advocacy, compliance services, education and training, cooperative initiatives, and communications.

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