Taxes & Student Loans: Educate to Create Opportunities


It’s that time of year again. People are hurrying to get their tax returns processed. Others, with their sights set on college, are going through Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) materials. In both cases, customers or potential customers, are bound to need a little clarification. In fact, as is the norm, clients/members who don’t do their taxes themselves will turn to one of the many pop-ups where they can have a professional help them for that clarification. Understanding where to begin with FAFSA and how to get the most aid are also important big-picture questions. Whenever clients/members have questions, you have the opportunity for you to step up and provide the answer.

As you know, a key tenet of successful content marketing is to provide customers with timely information about life events when they’re facing them. In doing so you begin to establish yourself as a trusted expert. That said, with tax time and college application season in full swing, this is an opportune moment to reach out and promote your institution and what you have to offer. Many credit unions offer an income tax preparation service; be sure you’re promoting it if you do. Use your social media platforms to share the educational information you have to help your clients with respect to filing taxes and college application guidance. Use what you have stored on your site to help aid them. This is the time when you don’t want your clients going somewhere else for financial help.

Basic Financial Literacy                                                                  

According to figures from an infographic in the digital publication The Financial Brand (“Dollars and Sense: Financial Literacy in the U.S.” August 2, 2013, http://thefinancialbrand.com/32266/financial-literacy-dollars-and-sense/), financial literacy about basics such as budgeting appears to be low.

Those who prepare budgets by educational level:

  • High school or less: 26%
  • College graduates: 38%

Those who prepare budgets by household income:

  • $75,000+: 39%
  • $30,000 – $75,000: 30%
  • >$30,000: 32%

In light of these figures, when you have customers in your office filing their taxes, you can take that opportunity to discuss other ways you can help them. One example might be providing budgeting tips or introducing the basics of a savings plan, which, according to the same article, only 3 out of 10 Americans have implemented. This is also a good time to suggest talking with your customer’s children about college planning; financial education; and helping them understand FAFSA and the basics of finances, loans, and building credit. In fact, knowledge gaps in your customer’s children, according to the numbers in The Financial Brand’s infographic, reveal quite a few areas where you can provide guidance and advice that helps build your credibility.

What teens say they already know about managing their money:

  • How to write a check: 60%
  • How to shop for the best deal: 66%
  • Difference between debit cards and credit cards: 60%
  • How to budget: 57%
  • How to establish good credit: 38%
  • How to balance a checkbook: 35%
  • How credit card interest and fees work: 31%
  • What a credit score is: 31%
  • How income taxes work: 22%
  • What a 401(k) is: 17%

In summary, there are always aspects of financial literacy about which you can further educate customers. Tying them to key events during the year further propels your message and puts you at the forefront of your customer’s mind when considering their financial options.