CSU Fullerton -- October 17, 2003

California College Students Take The Lead In New Consumer Credit Education Initiative

California college students are taking the lead in teaching credit and money management skills to their peers in a unique twist on a national, bilingual CreditSmart Español program targeting fast-growing Hispanic communities.

The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) joined Freddie Mac earlier this year to launch the national campus edition of CreditSmart Español, which was created to narrow the homeownership gap for Hispanic families by offering free classes in building strong credit and financial literacy. Sixty-eight percent of families overall own their own home, but only 48 percent of Hispanic families are homeowners, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

At California State University, Fullerton, volunteers from the Latino Business Student Association will offer their first all-day CreditSmart Español workshop on the campus on Saturday, Oct. 18. The student trainers are among the nation’s first Hispanic college students to complete the CreditSmart Español training conducted by HACU and Freddie Mac, one of the nation’s largest investors in residential mortgages.

“Who knows better than today’s college students about the personal challenges of escalating college costs, heavy student loan burdens and the need to better manage the high cost of credit throughout their lives,” said HACU President and CEO Antonio Flores.

“We’re delighted that students at Cal State Fullerton are taking the lead in teaching credit education classes to their peers, and applaud our member campus for embracing CreditSmart Español as an important new learning opportunity for their students and community,” Flores said.

All students and community residents are invited to participate in a series of workshops that will help participants learn credit and money management skills to better prepare for future homeownership, a college education for their children and other lifelong financial goals. In addition to Cal State Fullerton, HACU and Freddie Mac are training instructors on campuses with large enrollments of Hispanic students in Texas, Puerto Rico, New York and Florida.

“Today’s announcement adds a new level of innovation to CreditSmart Español by establishing an ingenious new source of financial literacy training for the Hispanic community: California’s Latino college students,” said Jim Park, vice president of corporate relations at Freddie Mac. “I want to thank our colleagues at HACU and Cal State Fullerton for coming together to expand homeownership and financial opportunity in the Hispanic community.”

“With an uncertain employment outlook facing today’s college graduates, learning sound financial literacy skills can better equip them to reach their goals, especially for students facing high college loan debts after college,” said Rosario Mendez, program manager for the HACU/Freddie Mac CreditSmart Español alliance.

“For Hispanic college students, who suffer a disproportionately high college debt-to-income burden upon graduation, these workshops will prove especially beneficial,” Mendez said.

“All students have questions about what affects their credit score, particularly as we are trying to build credit,” said Raymond Garcia, president of Cal State Fullerton’s Latino Business Student Association and among the 10 certified student trainers who will conduct the CreditSmart Español workshop on Oct. 18.

"We hope that once they graduate and enter the workforce, students will be in a position to buy a house. That’s one of my personal goals,” Garcia said. “This training will be very valuable.”

CreditSmart Español, an extension of Freddie Mac’s trademarked CreditSmart initiative for U.S. consumers, provides course materials in English and Spanish to reach a broader cross section of the nation’s largest ethnic population. A $10,000 grant to establish the initiative at Cal State Fullerton was provided by Freddie Mac. HACU was enlisted because of its reach to its more than 350 member colleges and universities, which serve schools with the largest concentrations of Hispanic higher education students in the United States.

Cal State Fullerton, a member of HACU, is among the top ranked higher education institutions in the United States for producing consistently high Hispanic college graduation rates. “Cal State Fullerton is a national leader in so effectively addressing the education challenges facing Hispanics, who suffer the lowest high school and college graduation rates of any major U.S. population group,” Flores said.

HACU will present an award to Cal State Fullerton as Outstanding HACU Member Institution at HACU’s 17th Annual Conference Oct. 18-21 just a few miles from the Fullerton campus at the Hyatt Regency-Orange County in Garden Grove. Freddie Mac officials will join HACU at the 17th Annual Conference on Sunday, Oct. 19, to announce an expansion of the CreditSmart Español initiative.

Freddie Mac is a stockholder-owned corporation chartered by Congress to provide a continuous flow of funds to mortgage lenders to sustain a stable mortgage credit system, thereby reducing mortgage rates paid by U.S. homeowners. Since its inception in 1970, Freddie Mac has opened doors for one in six homebuyers and 2 million renters across America. For more information, visit www.freddiemac.com.

HACU, a nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c (3) organization, is a national leader in Hispanic outreach, advocacy and higher education initiatives, including scholarship and internship programs, lifelong learning and workforce development initiatives. For more information, visit www.hacu.net.

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