On Monday, UCF announced Fairwinds Credit Union as its new banking partner.
After months of waiting, students, faculty and staff now know which company will fill the gaping hole left on the corner of the John T. Washington Center when UCF dissolved its 10-year partnership with SunTrust in August.
UCF originally planned to announce a new partner in July, but kept the search going when no one made an offer that was desirable enough.
In September, Chad Binette, associate director of UCF News & Information, gave a reason for the delay.
"We are seeking a partner that is willing to waive monthly fees and offer financial education classes to our students about topics such as how to build and manage credit."
It seems Fairwinds, the largest locally owned and operated financial institution in Central Florida, has met those demands. The credit union edged out competition with student-centered products and services, as well as financial strength, according to a UCF press release.
The new partner will offer students, faculty and staff the option of linking their UCF ID cards to a Fairwinds checking account, allowing them to use the ID as a debit card at participating retailers. It will also provide free ATM transactions at all Publix grocery stores, free checking accounts and money orders and free financial education seminars on topics such as credit, buying a vehicle, homeownership, identity theft and QuickBooks.
"It makes sense with the partnership, and it's something that we're excited about," said Leah Bibliowicz, UCF alumna and marketing coordinator of Fairwinds in Orlando. "We strongly believe that we're not just here to have you have a checking account with us or get an auto loan; we want to teach you financial responsibility and to prepare you for responsible spending and budgeting and credit use moving forward in your life." Fairwinds was connected to UCF long before the new partnership was formed. Larry Tobin, president and CEO of Fairwinds, is a UCF alumnus, as well as the chief operating officer, and the credit union has been the official partner of the UCF Alumni Association since 2005.
"Our company is very, very heavy with UCF students and alum," Bibliowicz said. "Our management team is more UCF alumni than not." The announcement may have sparked a campus banking battle. Less than 24 hours after the Fairwinds press release was distributed, the UCF Federal Credit Union announced that it will give away $5,000 in a sweepstakes called 15 Favs for a Chance to Win $5,000 Towards Tuition.
Students will have until Dec. 15 to take photos around campus while holding UCF FCU's mascot, Jack the Jester, and share them on Instagram or Facebook by using the hash tag #15UCFfavs. Each picture counts as a submission into the $5,000 drawing.
UCF FCU hopes to raise brand awareness among the student body, said Suzanne Dusch, vice president of marketing. "Surprisingly, many students are not aware that UCF Federal Credit Union is on campus," Dusch said.
The credit union is next to the future Fairwinds location and has been serving the UCF community for more than 40 years.