Binghamton University officially replaced M&T Bank with Visions Federal Credit Union on July 1, leaving many returning students with an important decision to make about keeping or closing their account with M&T, the on-campus bank for over two decades.
The Binghamton Auxiliary Services Corporation, a board of University administrators and students, unanimously awarded Visions the on-campus bank and ATM services contract last semester. The decision came after a five-month series of meetings analyzing student surveys and other bank proposals.
For newcomers to the University, Visions seems to be a popular choice. According to Maria Roberts, the associate director of Auxiliary Services, the on-campus Visions location has opened more than 1,000 new accounts, most of which were for freshmen. The on-campus Visions branch officially opened on July 5, and students could opt to open an account at the branch, online or at campus events, according to Roberts.
“Freshmen are more likely to have opened an account because the Visions team made it convenient for them by attending the freshmen orientation events,” Roberts wrote in an email. “It was easy for freshmen to open accounts at these events because the Visions team was prepared to complete the application process on-site as they moved through orientation. Visions was also available during transfer and international student sessions and were able to assist those interested with opening accounts at that time.”
But for returning students, the choice was more complicated. Some chose to stick with M&T, while others swapped over to Visions. Jacob Morenberg, a sophomore majoring in environmental studies, said it was difficult to decide if he should make the switch to Visions or keep his old account with M&T.
“I wish the school could just pick a bank and stick to it,” Morenberg said. “Switching banks just makes things more complicated for everyone. As students, we have enough on our plates. The last thing we need is the stress of rearranging our finances.”
Jason Russo, a sophomore double-majoring in English and psychology, ultimately decided to move his account from M&T to Visions, but said the switch has been inconvenient.
“The switch from M&T to Visions was handled poorly in my opinion,” Russo said. “I’m sure the University has its reasons for switching, but it is a major inconvenience for students like me who, after opening up a new M&T account for school, have to open up yet another account in Visions.”
According to Russo, the lack of notice about the transition made a difficult situation even more frustrating.
“On top of that, there was very little notice of the fact that M&T was closing,” Russo said. “Even now, when you search for banking on the University’s website, it still says that M&T is the bank on campus which is very misleading. M&T is a larger and better recognized entity than Visions, and I think it would have been better for students if they hadn’t made the change at all.”
Visions takes part in shared branching, which enables access to personal accounts at other participating credit unions for students who don’t live near a Visions at home. Students choosing to keep their M&T accounts can do so by using the branch across the street from the University on Vestal Parkway East, the branch on Exchange Street in Downtown Binghamton, the branch on Front Street on Binghamton’s West Side or by accessing other locations throughout New York state.
Julia Berchou, public relations manager for M&T Bank, wrote in an email that M&T wishes to be students’ bank of choice even after graduation.
“We’ll miss being on-campus to help the students of Binghamton University with their financial goals,” Berchou wrote. “We hope to see many of them at our nearby Vestal Parkway branch, and possibly at one of our 750 other locations across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic as they graduate and potentially relocate for their first jobs.”