Franklin First Federal Credit Union launches college planning center with Invite Education

Press release from CUInsight:

GREENFIELD, MA (July 19, 2017) — Franklin First Federal Credit Union (FFFCU) has announced a partnership with Invite Education to offer a free comprehensive, life-cycle college planning website. FFFCU’s College Planning Center, powered by Invite Education, is available to anyone, FFFCU members or non-members, who would like better information, tools, and services to more effectively plan and pay for college. FFFCU is the first Credit Union to partner with Invite Education.

“Planning and paying for higher education can be a daunting task for families. Our hope in partnering with Invite Education is to make this process less stressful by helping families answer critical questions such as ‘How do I save for my children’s education?’ ‘Can my child get in to their dream school?’ and ‘Can we afford it?’” said Franklin First CEO/President Michelle Dwyer. “We look forward to helping all families in the community make the college planning process more positive and rewarding with our new College Planning Center.”

Jeff Bentley, Director of Strategic Partnerships for Invite Education added: “Invite Education is thrilled to have a strategic partner such as Franklin First, which is a visionary thought leader in offering a College Planning Center to clarify the college process for its members.”

The FFFCU/Invite Education College Planning Center is a robust platform with an intuitive design that empowers families to manage the entire college planning process from birth through high school. The website offers:

  • Age-appropriate guidance to empower families with detailed information on preparing, financing, and successfully applying to college
  • Easy-to-understand explanations to help parents evaluate options: savings, scholarships, financial aid, and loans
  • Comprehensive calculators and college and scholarship search engines
  • Resource Center with college planning resources and FFFCU endorsed products/services
  • Calendar that integrates relevant testing dates, college and scholarship deadlines, and family specific events

Those interested can access the FFFCU College Planning Center at For more information, call Franklin First Federal Credit Union at (413) 774-6700.

About Franklin First Federal Credit Union

Franklin First Federal Credit Union began in 1958 at Franklin County Public Hospital. In the 1980’s there were mergers of four Franklin County credit unions: Franklin County Public Hospital FCU, Franklin County Teachers FCU, Lunt Silversmiths CU, and Greenfield Tap & Die Credit Union. Anyone who lives, works, attends school or worships in Franklin County can join Franklin First. They currently serve over 7,000 members and over 250 Business Group Partners at their branch at 57 Newton Street in Greenfield, Massachusetts.

About Invite Education

Founded in 2012, Invite Education demystifies the process of planning and paying for college by providing a comprehensive suite of information, tools and services for families. Offering an online custom College Planning Center, a weekly podcast called My College Corner, a blog and a book, they partner with organizations to provide this valuable information to their employees, members and customers.


Michelle Dwyer
Franklin First Federal Credit Union
(413) 774-6700

College worries your customers: Here’s Why & What you can do to help them

When it comes to finances, what do you think are the two biggest areas of concern for adults with children?

Here’s what an April 2015 Gallup poll said:

  • More parents worry about how they are going to pay for college than they do about their own retirement.
  • 73% of those surveyed said they worry more about college than their retirement.
  • Even parents making $100,000 or more are worried.   61% said they were worried about having enough money to pay for their children’s college.

Grandparents are also worried and are helping their grandchildren like never before.  A 2014 Legg Mason study:

  • 2/3 of grandparents whose grandchildren are planning to attend college in the future are chipping in to financially support their education.
  • Nearly 40% contribute to the costs for grandchildren currently in college.

Why is everyone worried?

  1.  They may still have their own student loan debt and are concerned about how to help their children.  In 2013,  seniors age 65 and above totaled $18.2 billion, a 650 percent increase from $2.8 billion in 2005.  On the other end of the spectrum, Fidelity’s 9th Annual Study for College Savings told us that56% of Millennial parents are still paying on student loans.
  2. The sound bites and statistics are scary.  By the end of 2015, student and parent college debt rose to almost $1.3 trillion.  The average debt for students graduating with a bachelor’s degree is $37,000.According to the Brookings Institution, the typical new graduate is likely to devote 14% or more of his or her paycheck to student loans. For those with fine art or therapy degrees, it’s closer to 20%.
  3. The cost of college continues to increase.  According to the College Board, the average cost of a four-year, private college, including room and board has climbed 53% in the past 10 years to $43,921. Many cost over $65,000.  But it is also true that many are priced far below the average. And the sticker price is not what families usually pay.
  4. Parents feel overwhelmed and guilty that they are not doing enough to help their children.  Few feel that they can save enough.  So they do nothing.

Here’s what you can do to help them:

  1. Be the source and conduit for factual information, tools and services to empower families to take action: Here are some important — and often overlooked — points:
    • Saving for college will likely be only one part of the total college financing plan — but is the element that can be acted upon very early in the life of a child.  Saving a little now can have a significant impact later.  Read about how the “Rule of 70” simplifies compound interest for your customer’s needs.
      • 529 College Savings Plans are very effective for  many families:
        Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 9.19.12 AM
        Learn More: Contact Invite Education

        529s are very flexible; provide tax advantaged savings; permit grandparents, parents and others to contribute to to each child’s college savings plan; allow up to five years of gifting up- front and offer penalty-free opportunities to switch beneficiaries.

      • Currently, there are more than 12 million 529 accounts open in the U.S. with over $250 billion — that’s 1/4 of a trillion dollars — saved for college.  So we’re making some good progress in the savings area.
  2. Leverage Invite Education’s platform to provide a value added service to your customers while growing assets under management and cross-selling products to grandparents, parents and students

Invite Education’s College Center is a cloud-based tool that is seamlessly added to your public web site or to select clients who need the most help.  You likely do not have the expertise on staff to update and keep college related information current and fresh.  Invite Education offers a complete planning platform that’s perfect for families managing the college process as early as Pre-K all the way to senior year of high school.

Younger families are guided to a savings plan that is right for them to help families take control of their future plans. Along the way, as the student progresses grade by grade, admissions and testing criteria are highlighted in preparation for the academic competitiveness involved.  As college nears, scholarships and financial aid are highlighted along with cost analysis and comparisons to help finalize school choice.  Finally, after all other funding avenues have been secured, student lending insight is provided to help families make wise decisions about debt.

It’s good business to help your customers — and their children, (aka your future customers!) — with this very critical need.




John’s Jots: Fulfilling College Dreams Should Be Easier

I am the Founder of Invite Education and will be frequently writing to support our mission to help families achieve their family’s college dreams.  Part of that effort is the recently launched @InviteEducation Blog, which will provide new insight into the greater national conversation about how to help families achieve their college dreams. Your customers need help navigating this important and stressful aspect of their life.

Today, families report that college has become an overwhelming process. But when looking at the big picture, it sure seems like if should be much simpler than other great challenges we’ve accepted.   On July 20, 1969 Neil Armstrong landed on the moon.   Since then,  technology has changed our lives in unimaginable ways.  Our smart phones now house our entire music libraries, give us maps and audio directions to destinations, deliver emails and let us search the internet.    Amazingly, despite these technological marvels, families feel more stress about planning and paying for college than ever before.   It does not need to be this way.  The process is ripe for change.  As Bernie Sanders might say: “That’s nuts. It’s crazy. We need a revolution!”

Revolutions make for great sound bites, but what we need is less dramatic and more concrete: facts, a thoughtful dialogue, and some solutions for families to reduce the anxiety they feel about college.   At Invite Education, we want to simplify and demystify the college conversation. For example, at the end of the day, there are only two questions for college bound 12th graders:

  • Can the student get into the college of their choice?
  • Can the family afford it?

Boiled down and devoid of emotion, the process isn’t that complex. A student simply has to:

  • Establish a good high school track record
  • Take a few exams
  • Fill out an admission and financial aid applications

Sounds simple, but it’s not easy…

We take a thoughtful approach to the college planning process and want to help businesses address their customers’ concerns.  We’ll cover the important issues like college costs, benefits, and how families can prepare themselves and their children to afford their “right fit” school both academically and socially. We encourage starting early beginning with a smart savings strategy for newborns that carries right through elementary, middle school and high school.  By mastering simple habits and raising awareness about the topic, families can minimize the “suprises” and maximize higher education opportunities.

Let us know what you think.   Next, we’ll start talk about the four pillars of a smart college financing plan: savings, free money, current income and loans.

Before you offer college scholarships, look at this…

You’ve done everything right by your community.  From financial literacy outreach to free seminars, to helpful learning materials assisting students on their way to college.

But what happens to all that work when it’s time to convert it to new members/customers and associated products?  Turns out it’s tough to measure. Let’s face it, it takes an incredible amount of energy to provide great financial literacy knowledge to the public, but as any teacher knows, every student follows their own learning path.  What’s interesting about financial literacy is that while anyone can learn it in in the classroom, not everyone will apply it in their life.  That is until they face a challenge where financial literacy is needed, and suddenly it becomes a major point of focus. It’s at that moment the old saying “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear” becomes realized.  Except today, that new teacher is available online 24/7 through virtually all digital devices.

How do you keep up with that? 

You provide a scholarship: It’s still a great idea representing the noble goal of education.  It always draws immediate attention, especially when providing financial literacy to the greater public.  The problem is simply supply and demand.  Only a handful, if not just one student will qualify for your scholarship.  What about all the other students that still plan to pursue higher education?

You Invite Education: It’s simple. Students deserve a better college planning experience, and you can deliver. When offering scholarships to your local community, take the opportunity to provide more. Invite Education offers comprehensive tools that cover testing, admissions, college savings and financial aid along with a scholarship search engine to locate even more funding. Continue to help all students pursue their college dreams beyond your scholarship program for positive community engagement.

Ready to learn more?

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