Why is the U banking on TCF?

The University shouldn’t give TCF Bank such uninhibited access to vulnerable students.

by Daily Editorial Board

As ABC News highlighted in a recent report, TCF Bank and the University of Minnesota are just one bank-school pair under investigation for possibly using their close relationship to exploit students’ financial vulnerability by recruiting them to open TCF checking accounts — an end from which both TCF and the University

greatly profit.

The Minnesota Daily also reported on Sept. 11 that “each active U Card attached to a TCF account was assigned a value of $34 in 2013.” After reaching $1 million through the opening of new student accounts, TCF “started paying the University the $34 for each subsequent account opened.”

ABC News was quick to sensationalize this story by terming TCF’s payout for students’ business as a “bounty.” Despite this dramatic characterization, relationships between financial institutions and public institutions of higher education should
be scrutinized.

While the University would agree students have the freedom to choose their bank, it is undeniable that TCF is advertised far more than other banks in the area and targets its most impressionable potential customers at the University: freshmen during orientation and Welcome Week.

The convenience of linking U Cards to TCF checking accounts is repeatedly highlighted by tour guides, orientation leaders and even TCF representatives during incoming students’ first few days at the University — while the overdraft fees and other less attractive TCF policies are conveniently left out.

This inundating and subtle form of recruitment is something the University should not allow its students to be exposed to. If the University truly wants to display its institutional independence and indifference to student banking preferences, no bank should be given such privileged, uninhibited access to students at one of the most vulnerable and financially unstable periods in their lives.