By Citi April 14, 2010 10:49 AM
When the U.S. Congress passed "The Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010" on March 26, it eliminated the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program. With the U.S. Department of Education moving to a model of direct student lending via the Federal Direct Loan Program, banks and other financial institutions will no longer have a role in federal student loan originations beginning July 1, 2010.
Throughout the legislative process, Citi, through its subsidiary, The Student Loan Corporation (SLC), strongly advocated maintaining choice and competition in federal student lending. Regardless of this new legislation, SLC remains committed to private student loans.
By Citi April 13, 2010 03:30 PM
With April marking Financial Literacy Month, there is a great deal of public attention on financial education and its potential as a tool to improve the economy. At a Citi-sponsored event last week organized by The Greater Washington Jump$tart Coalition, "Financial Education and Washington," participants framed the issue and highlighted financial literacy initiatives directed at students.
In opening remarks, Eric Bell, an assistant vice president at Citi Private Bank who is the volunteer president of the DC-area coalition, noted a 2008 Jump$tart Coalition survey finding that financial literacy of high school students had fallen to its lowest level ever. He also outlined a vision for personal finance to be covered in every student's education. "A few decades ago, credit was extended only to those who could prove their ability to repay. Today, however, both college graduates and high school dropouts enter their adult lives with crippling student loans and credit card debt, frequently without a job in place to provide the income they will need to repay it," he said. "If young people are not prepared to make financial decisions wisely, substantial negative consequences may result that we will ultimately face as a nation."
By Jonathan Clements, Citi's Director of Financial Education April 12, 2010 01:07 PM
If things are so good, why do we feel so bad? A new nationwide survey released this week by Citi, and conducted by Hart Research Associates, found that 80 percent of Americans rate the economy as fair or poor and 59 percent believe the economy still hasn't hit bottom. Moreover, some 33 percent of Americans say they are worse off financially than they were a year ago and another 52 percent say their financial condition is about the same. We are, it seems, mired in an economic winter.
This may be a little puzzling, because there are plenty of signs of spring. U.S. economic growth turned positive in 2009's third quarter. March's unemployment rate was 9.7 percent, down from 10.1 percent in October 2009. The real estate market appears to be stabilizing. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index is up some 75 percent since the March 2009 bear market low.
April 12, 2010 10:37 AM
Bank Technology News just gave Citi top honors in its first ranking of "America's Greenest Banks." It was exciting news to the teams we have around the world working to reduce Citi's impact on the earth.
The award highlighted the accomplishments of Citi's Sustainable Operations & Technology program, which includes dozens of initiatives aimed at shrinking our environmental footprint and controlling costs. In just one example, we updated computer hardware across the 1,000+ Citibank branches in North America, reducing our branch energy costs by 15 percent annually while improving the speed with which we service our customers.
By Citi April 06, 2010 03:49 PM
Citi is working with the developer of the mobile phone application CauseWorld to support two organizations dedicated to alleviating poverty and supporting economic growth: BRAC and ACCION USA. Once downloaded, the CauseWorld app allows users to donate to those organizations and others by allocating "karma points" they've earned simply by checking in at certain retail stores. "Karma points" are converted by Citi into real dollar donations.
We've committed $700,000 toward the 18 organizations supported by CauseWorld, and with the inclusion of BRAC and ACCION USA, users can now focus donations on the type of long-term economic empowerment projects made possible by microfinance.
By Citi April 02, 2010 05:07 PM
Since the beginning of the mortgage crisis in 2007, we have worked in a variety of ways with over 824,000 homeowners to help them in their efforts to avoid foreclosure. CitiMortgage was among the first lenders to sign on to the U.S. Treasury's Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) and we recently agreed to participate in the Treasury's second-lien modification program. We have also provided deferments, extensions, repayment plans and other forms of modification to many mortgage customers in financial trouble. In addition, we offer the Citi® Homeowner Assistance Program, which engages at-risk customers who may show signs of financial distress even before they enter delinquency.
As a mortgage lender, CitiMortgage is very aware of the challenges that any job loss presents to a homeowner's finances. We have been out in front of the industry with the Citi® Homeowner Unemployment Assist Program, an innovative initiative started in March 2009, offering temporary mortgage relief to certain recently unemployed borrowers. Under the program, we lower monthly mortgage payments for qualifying CitiMortgage-owned loans to an average of $500 for three months, a figure below the average rent for a one-bedroom residence in the U.S. This program can help some homeowners while they get their financial feet back on the ground. If the customer is not employed within three months, we work with them on a case-by-case basis to explore the best solutions.
By Citi March 30, 2010 05:28 PM
Deborah McWhinney, President of Citi Personal Banking and Wealth Management, in a special symposium Monday helped the U.S. Treasury and the White House Council on Women and Girls put the spotlight on the landscape and challenge for women in finance. Other panelists at the Washington, DC event included FDIC chairman Sheila Bair, SEC chairwoman Mary Schapiro, U.S. Treasurer Rosie Rios and Congressional Oversight Panel chair Elizabeth Warren.
They discussed ways to build women's financial capability as a life skill in high school and college, women's role in the economic recovery and ways to get more women into jobs in banking and money management. Though noting the number of job opportunities in finance is down, panelists said there are big opportunities for those entering an industry confronting crisis and taking new shape. "It is unprecedented how much leadership and forward-thinking it is going to take," McWhinney told the audience, many of whom were university students tuning into a live webcast.
By Citi March 26, 2010 03:43 PMCiti announced a commitment to participate in the Treasury's 2MP second-lien modification program. In conjunction with the Home Affordable Modification Program, 2MP reduces payments on a second lien after homeowners receive loan modification on their first mortgage. "It is our priority and commitment at Citi to help homeowners in need," said Vikram Pandit, Citi's CEO. "The 2MP program will further improve the affordability of mortgages and help families facing financial distress stay in their homes."
By Citi March 18, 2010 06:04 PMCiti believes that the proposed overdraft regulations, including "opt-in," don't go far enough in protecting consumers. Before a customer can be charged for an overdraft at an ATM or when using their debit card, they should be given the choice -- at the point of sale -- to approve the transaction or not. And until that happens, the customer does not have true choices. The days of the surprise "$39.00 cup of coffee" are not over until customers have all of the information they need -- at the point of sale.
At Citi, we've never authorized an overdraft at the ATM or debit point of sale where the customer did not have sufficient funds at the time. On the eve of changing federal regulations, other banks are now telling customers they will also decline these transactions. This is a good thing, even if somewhat late in coming.
By Citi March 18, 2010 10:14 AMMany college-bound students and their families are up against deadlines for applying for financial aid next year. The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) application is famously cumbersome. Indeed, just to get more young people on the path to college, Washington made it a priority to simplify the form.
There is help to be found in many communities, too. Citi Foundation recently partnered with the Center for Economic Progress to expand its Financial Aid U program assisting low-income and first-generation students with the complex application requirements. In addition to a $600,000 grant, 50 Citi volunteers are putting their financial expertise to work to help complete forms. Last tax season, the Center for Economic Progress completed 730 FAFSA forms that helped secure $4 million in financial aid.