The NCUA will now count military personnel in determining whether a credit union qualifies for the agency’s low-income designation.
“Because so many military members are just getting started, they may not have much experience in working with financial institutions, at least not yet,” NCUA Chairman Rodney Hood said, in announcing the change.
To meet the NCUA designation of “low-income credit union,” the majority of an institution’s members must meet certain low-income thresholds.
Agency officials said that active-duty military personnel constitute a highly mobile population and that many servicemembers list Army/Post Office or Fleet Post Office mailing addresses. Up until now, the NCUA low income assessment tool only counted people with physical street addresses. Now, those military personnel will be counted.
Agency officials noted that there are several benefits for credit unions having the low income designation. They may have an exemption from the Member Business Lending cap, be able to accept deposits from non-members and obtain supplemental capital. In addition, the credit unions are eligible for grants and loans from the NCUA Community Development Revolving Loan Fund.
NCUA board member Todd Harper said he has pushed for this change since joining the board. He credited the Northwest Credit Union Association and the Defense Credit Union Council for having alerted him to the need to make the change.
“Ultimately, today’s action advances economic dignity and inclusion by counting everyone when determining whether a credit union meets the low-income designation,” Harper said.
CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle applauded the decision, saying that the decision will provide military members expanded services that low-income credit unions may provide.
Nussle last month sent Hood a letter listing recommendations the trade group said would help credit unions respond to the coronavirus pandemic. In the letter, Nussle said CUNA favored including servicemembers in the low-income count since most enlisted members living on base make below 80% of the median income.