ATMs in high schools -- good idea but
watch out for fees
Rob Holstrom, assistant principal at West Linn High
School in West Linn, Ore., says his school recently installed an
ATM just as a convenience for students and faculty. He's hoping
students will become as educated about budgeting as his daughter
did when her high school got one.
"We gave her a card and you could only pull out
$5 per transaction -- it didn't have a service fee. My wife and
I liked it because she had lunch money without having to carry cash
all the time. She was a freshman and she had to learn to budget.
We could oversee the account and see how she was managing it. It
was a great tool."
Perhaps one of the best ways to teach kids checkbook management
is through hands-on experience. Several high schools have student-run
bank or credit union branches on campus.
Mount Blue High School in Farmington, Maine, has two
teller stations manned by students. An employee of Franklin Savings
Bank oversees the training, and handles opening new accounts and
more difficult transactions. The little branch is housed in the
business department and has been serving students and faculty for
"It's not a profitable endeavor, more a community
service -- we're giving an education to the kids," says Dee
LaPlant, assistant vice president of customer service at Franklin
"Most of the kids come from the business program.
Training is constant; they're still getting training on the last
day of school. There have been few mistakes -- quite amazing --
no more than at our regular branches; they're so closely supervised."
Across the continent, in the Vancouver, Wash., area,
iQ Credit Union has put branches in six high schools since 1995.
Approximately 100 students are involved in running the branches,
says Danette LaChapelle, vice president of marketing at iQ.
"All of the students go through training
in the fall before the branch opens. The campus branches aren't
a source of income, but they're successful in that they're learning
how to operate a business, execute transactions, and open new accounts.
"They're also learning about customer service
and the interview process because they have to do an interview before
being accepted into the class. Students from each branch come to
our credit union branch for a summer internship. The following year
they're the manager at their school branch."
A bonus for the schools with iQ branches -- all have
Trend takes hold
Unfortunately, the ATMs that will likely gain a foothold in most
high schools will have fees. Banks don't see high school-based ATMs
as a source of income because of the low number of transactions.
Therefore schools will have to lease or buy ATMs -- and to do that
they need to charge a transaction fee. When the machine is paid
off, the fee will shift to paying for student activities.
Daryl Grove's company, GoodVantage Resources in Gresham,
Ore., installed an ATM in one high school in 2002, but was turned
down by a handful of other schools. Now that some educators have
seen the income opportunity, Groves says there are several principals
who are interested in talking with him. The schools are aware they
walk a fine line when it comes to fees.
"The schools don't want to appear to be merchandising
the kids," says Grove. "They want to keep the parents
from having to come to school to give them cash. Maybe it's an idea
whose time has come. I have felt all along it has potential. It
was a tremendous amount of effort initially."