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  • Blog Series: Spotlight on the Adjustable-Rate Mortgage, Part 2

    Mar 30, 2018
    A Deep Dive into ARMs
    by Jeff Klein, Assistant Vice President of Mortgage Lending & Real Estate

    In our last post, we learned about adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs), how they work and the benefits they can provide. Here, we’re going to do an example comparison with between a 30 Year Fixed mortgage and a 7/1 ARM to see how much you could save with the ARM in that hypothetical.

    When you speak with one of our Mortgage Loan Consultants, one of the first questions they will ask you is how long you intend to be in the home.  A conservative yet realistic answer to this question will help us recommend which product is right for you. By matching up the fixed rate period to the length of time you expect to be there (and even adding a few extra years just in case), we can optimize your interest savings and ensure that you only pay for the rate security that you actually need.  How much savings are we actually talking about?  Let’s look at an example.

    30 Year Fixed vs. 7/1 ARM
     

    Let’s say you’ve recently gotten married and are purchasing a $400,000 starter home in DC.  The location is great, but you know full well that the home is a little on the small side and if you start a family in a few years, you’ll quickly outgrow it.  You conservatively estimate that you’ll be in this house for 4-5 years and are intrigued by an ARM product.  Adding in a few extra years (just in case your plans get delayed) leads you to believe that the 7/1 ARM might be a good option.  You ask your Mortgage Loan Consultant to compare the 7/1 against a 30-year fixed in order to determine the best approach.  Your Consultant prepares the following analysis: 
     

    graph1

    graph2

    The main thing that jumps out is the difference in monthly payment.  Because the rate is 1.125% less, the 7/1 ARM offers a monthly savings of $208.  But the real story is the total savings of almost $24,000 over seven years!  If you know with relative certainty that you’ll be out of that house by the end of year 7 (or at the very least out of that loan), then your analysis can end right here.  The 7/1 is a much better option.
       
    But try as you might, you can’t help thinking, “what if?”  What if you decide you really love this house and don’t want to move?  What if it takes longer to sell the home than you expected? Let’s explore that worst-case scenario.  On the 7/1 ARM, the rate can adjust 5% upwards during the life of the loan. Assuming rates move sharply upwards, here’s a comparison of your monthly payment in year 8.

     
    graph3

    Definitely a different story.  Your monthly payment has increased significantly, and is now higher than it would have been if you had gone with the 30-year fixed.  But remember – you saved nearly $24,000 in the first seven years.  So while your payment is higher in year 8, overall you’re still ahead.  Same story after 9 years, and it’s not until month 117 (nearly 10 years later) that the 30-year fixed overtakes the 7/1 ARM in terms of total interest paid.

    graph4

    So, what does this all mean?  Well, it probably means different things to different people.  Some people are completely risk averse, and for them there is no price too high to eliminate uncertainty.  And there is nothing wrong with that!

    Others, however, will look at the example above and consider the following: even in a scenario where the member’s initial estimate of 4-5 years in the home became 10, and even when the initial interest rate increased by 5%, the 7/1 ARM still was no worse than the 30-year fixed from the standpoint of total interest paid.  Not to mention that in 10 years, there’s a good chance the following will also be true:

    • Your home will have likely appreciated in value
    • The balance on your loan will have been paid down over ten years
    • Your annual income may also have grown substantially (depending on your life stage)

    I should also point out that none of our mortgages carry prepayment penalties.  Assuming you can qualify, you are free to refinance at any time if your situation changes.
      
    The example above may either scare you or interest you. Regardless of which category you find yourself in, I hope that what is evident is that there is no right or wrong answer.  Despite what you may read or hear, there are very few bad mortgage products. There are only bad fits for one’s specific situation.  What we do here every day is try to match the product to the member.  Ultimately, you are the one who needs to rest easy at night, and we would never match a member to a product that didn’t mesh with their risk tolerance and personal financial goals.

    Introducing the 5/5 ARM1

    It was with that in mind that we developed our newest product, the 5/5 ARM.  Similar to the 5/1 ARM, the 5/5 carries a fixed rate for the first five years.  But instead of adjusting annually, it adjusts only once each subsequent five years.  And to make it even more appealing, we added a 2% cap on each adjustment. The 5/5 ARM truly offers a unique blend of a low rate with additional rate security, designed for the needs of our membership in the transient DC area.  

    So contact one of our expert Mortgage Loan Consultants today for a no-cost consultation to determine if an ARM is right for you.  Whether you are looking to purchase or refinance, we would love the opportunity to help you achieve your home financing goals.
     

    1Sample 5/5 ARM loan terms for a purchase loan of $320,000 secured by a property located in Washington, DC with an 80% LTV based on market conditions as of March, 2018:  A 3.25% interest rate with 0 points and a 4.669% annual percentage rate (APR); payable in 360 monthly installments where the first 60 months will be at a payment of $1,392.66 with a corresponding simple interest rate of 3.25%; the next 60 months will be at a payment of $1,712.54 with a corresponding simple interest rate of 5.25%; the next 239 months will be at a payment of $1,748.23 with a corresponding simple interest rate of 5.5% and the remaining 1 month will be at a payment of $1,747.65 with a corresponding simple interest rate of 5.5%.  Rates subject to change.  Loans subject to credit approval.  If an escrow account is required or requested, the actual monthly payment will also include amounts for real estate taxes and homeowner's insurance premiums.Click here for full information about 5/5 Adjustable Rate Mortgage costs and terms

     


     
  • Stop Surfing. Start Using the Database Agents Use for Your Home Search

    Mar 28, 2018


    Finding the perfect home where you will share time with family and friends--and create great memories--is very exciting. When you're starting out, browsing and bookmarking dream homes is fun.

    There are plenty of sites you can visit to browse listings. But publicly available listings can be limited in scope, outdated, or even inaccurate.

    Our HomeAdvantage® program, which we provide free to Members, offers up a more comprehensive search, including full access to MLS listings. MLS is a huge database (actually 800 listing services in one) that buying and seller's agents use to find or sell properties. There may be more data available there than what's posted to public search sites, and it's updated daily.

    Search the most current property listings based on your list of “must- haves." Research what is selling in your own neighborhood and the neighborhoods you want to live in. Or go deeper into community demographics, school zones, local amenities, and more.


    So keep having fun with your search, and make sure it's the smartest search it can be! 

    To learn more about the full benefits of the free HomeAdvantage® program, visit the HomeAdvantage® site  or call us at 800.491.2328 to get started.

     

  • Blog Series: Spotlight on the Adjustable-Rate Mortgage

    Mar 16, 2018

    This article is the first of a two-part series looking at Adjustable Rate Mortgages--and why they might be a better fit than you think. Our expert guest author is Jeff Klein, Assistant Vice President of Mortgage Lending & Real Estate at Congressional Federal Credit Union.


     

    Adjustable-rate mortgages are bad, right?  Aren’t they what caused the global meltdown?”  As mortgage professionals, we hear this misconception from members on a daily basis. Over the past decade, you need only have turned on the TV, picked up a newspaper, or visited your favorite news site to learn about the evils of the adjustable rate mortgage (“ARM” in mortgage speak).
      
    But after a quick consultation with one of our Mortgage Loan Consultants, many of our members are pleasantly surprised—if not downright shocked—that an ARM could be an optimal solution for their specific needs. Could you be one of those members? Let’s take a deeper look at ARMs and weed through the various myths and realities to answer that question.

    30 Year Fixed: The Gold Standard?

    Let’s start out by reviewing the bedrock product of the mortgage industry.  I’d estimate that at least 80% of members looking for a home loan start out the discussion saying that they’re interested in a 30-year fixed.  After all, who doesn’t want the comfort of knowing that their interest rate will never change, whether it’s year 1 or year 30?  It’s stable and it’s secure. But it’s important to realize that security has a cost, and it’s a cost that is paid by you.
      
    No one knows where interest rates will go in the future. So if a lender contractually guarantees you a fixed interest rate for thirty years, they want to receive a hefty premium in return. And they do just that.  The rate on the 30-year fixed will almost always be the highest of any home loan product. 

    Whether that security is worth the cost is a question that only you can answer.  But before we even get that far, there’s another important variable we need to consider.  As noted, the added cost you pay for a 30-year fixed stems from the fact that your rate is fixed for the entire 30 years.  But how many of us actually stay in the same house for 30 years?  Furthermore, of those who have found their “forever home,” how many stay in the same mortgage for 30 years without refinancing?  

    Certainly in some parts of the country where jobs are more stable, it’s more common to find your dream home and stay there for a long time.  But here in the transient Washington DC area?  Not likely! Many of our members don’t know where they’ll be in three years, much less 30.  Jobs change; administrations turn over; commutes get longer; families grow. In other words, life happens. And if you find yourself paying off your 30-year fixed-rate mortgage a few years later because you’ve sold your house or refinanced, you’ve spent a lot of extra money for a benefit (a fixed rate) that you didn’t ultimately need.
     
    For Your Consideration: The ARM

    So, is there a better option?  First, let’s be clear about what we’re talking about when we discuss ARMs.  Here at Congressional Federal Credit Union, our adjustable-rate products are what we call “hybrid ARMs.” This simply means that there is an initial period where your rate is fixed, followed by a period where the rate will adjust to the prevailing market rate. 

    For example, let’s take the 7/1 ARM . The “7” in 7/1 represents the fixed period and the “1” represents the annual adjustment. So you would have an interest rate that is fixed for the first seven years. Then for each of the remaining 23 years, the rate would annually adjust to the prevailing rate. 

    It’s true that when the adjustment period comes around, the prevailing rate could be higher. But it could also be lower.  In fact, many members who took out ARMs over the past seven years have indeed seen their interest rate drop when the adjustment period arrived.  So while they are certainly adjustable rate mortgages, our ARMs really are better thought of as hybrids: part-fixed and part-adjustable, to give you the best of both. 
     

    Our ARM Offerings

    We currently offer a 3/1, a 5/1, a 7/1, a 10/1, and our newest product offering: a 5/5 (more on that later).  In general, the longer the fixed period, the higher the interest rate.  Remember, with each longer fixed period, the lender is giving you more rate security that comes with a cost. But even the rate on the 10/1, which has the longest fixed period, is still significantly lower than that of the 30 year fixed rate.  As I'm writing this, a quick check of our rates shows a .75% difference between the two. That can mean a significantly lower monthly payment.


    But wait.  I know what you’re thinking.
    What happens if rates shoot up drastically?
    Is there a limit on how high it can go?

    The answer is yes.


    Every ARM product at our credit union has a series of caps specifying limits on how much the rate can adjust on the first adjustment, any subsequent adjustment, and most importantly, at any point in the life of the loan.  So while you don’t know exactly what the interest rate will be when the rate adjusts, you do know the worst case scenario and can analyze accordingly. 

     

    Stay tuned for part two of this blog series, which will offer a deeper dive with side-by-side comparisons of ARMs and 30-Year-Fixed mortgages.

     
  • Holiday Phishing Scams: "Ho, Ho, Ho: Where Did My Package Go?"

    Dec 18, 2017



    Cyber scammers don’t take any time off for the holiday season. In fact, they’re working overtime to take advantage of the spirit of giving. Most consumers know not to leave packages outside their homes. But one cyber scam exploits our fears that our packages won’t arrive by sending bogus emails reporting fake problems with delivery.

    These bogus emails are spreading malware, ransomware, and credit card theft. All the shipping giants—Amazon, FedEx, UPS, and the USPS—report that customers are falling victim to email delivery scams, especially this time of year. Skip to tips

    How it works

    Scammers send emails reporting delivery glitches to customers expecting packages in the mail. Be on the lookout for the following types of messages: 

    • "Courier was not able to deliver parcel xxx1234"
    • "Please confirm your delivery shipment"
    • "Problems delivering item xxx1234"
    • "Please confirm shipment and delivery information to receive your package"
    • "To get your shipment, you must open the attachment and verify your credit card details"

    FedEx and UPS want customers to know they never send unsolicited emails about package deliveries. All big shipping services direct consumers to visit their specific website directly and log into their account to find out if that worrisome email is a scam.

    Tips to keep you safe

    The graphics and logos in these emails may look perfectly legitimate. However, look for misspellings and bad grammar. This is often an indication that the source is less than legitimate. 

    Never click on a link before verifying the address. Hover your cursor over the link to see where it’s really taking you, and check again there for accurate spelling. When in doubt, don’t click on an unknown address at all. “Typosquatters” are out there hoping to hook you with a phishing scam. 

    Also look for the lock icon in the address bar, and always start a URL with https://

    Finally, remember this simple rule of thumb: If it looks phish-y, it probably is.
     
  • Online Safety and Beyond: Holiday Edition

    Nov 22, 2017

    The holidays can be a busy time of year for hackers, fraudsters, and thieves. Here are some tips and tricks from our Network Safety Engineer for staying safe online--and  around the home--during the holiday season. 

    Online Dos and Don'ts

    • Do use well known reputable sites
    • Do double-check the URL
    • Do type out the URL
    • Don't fall for spam email and phishing
      • Don't open unexpected / unknown emails  
      • Don't follow links in email
        • Yes, it is too good to be true
        • Yes, they are trying to trick you
    • Social media posts:
      • Don't over share
      • Don't let thieves online shop your house
      • Don't Save your travel posts for your return

    Accounts and Passwords

    • Do not reuse passwords
      • If one site gets hacked, you must change them all
    • Create strong passwords
      • Use mixed case, numbers, and symbols
      • Don’t forget: the “space bar” is a special key
      • Try contextual sentences or passphrases

    Gift Card Scams

    • Stolen card numbers
      • Check for tampered packaging
      • Verify the PIN is not exposed
    • Switched at checkout
      • Verify the clerk scans and enables your card
      • Compare card numbers on receipt
    • Avoid used gift cards
      • Beware of 3-way calls for balance verification

    Credit Card Services and Protections


    Check your card provider for:
    • Purchase protections
      • Theft (when there is evidence)
      • Read the fine print first
    • Extended warranty protection
      • Gifts may be covered

    Parcel Delivery

    • Immediately retrieve packages
    • Arrange for neighbor pickup
    • Delivery notification
    • Alternate address
    • Hold mail at post office
    • Use shipping lockers
      • Amazon, FedEx, UPS

    Around the Home

    • Keep a light on
      • (At the back door too)
    • Lock windows & doors
    • Pull the blinds
    • Keep gifts out of sight
      • (No window shopping at your house)
    • Be discrete with your trash
      • Fold or roll large boxes
      • Use opaque trash bags
         
  • Why Credit Unions are Worth Celebrating

    Oct 10, 2017
    In 1924, Roy Bergengren, one of the architects of the credit union movement, reflected on how credit unions help people achieve their dreams.

    “The credit union is, in fact, a bridge,” Bergengren wrote. “It may be the bridge over which the tenant farmer travels the wide gap that separates him from ownership. It may be the way that opens the great land of opportunity to the wage worker, who finds his savings the ‘open sesame’ to broader possibilities for himself and his family.” 

    Twenty-four years later, in 1948, credit unions began celebrating their philosophy and achievements every year on the third Thursday in October. The theme for International Credit Union Day 2017 is “Dreams Thrive Here.” It hearkens back to Bergengren’s sentiment about how effective credit unions like Congressional Federal are at helping all people chase and achieve their biggest dreams in life. Credit unions serve as catalysts to make different professions, personal choices and career paths real.

    This is because, unlike other financial institutions, credit unions are not-for-profit, so their primary purpose isn’t to score record profits in order to cut distant shareholders bigger dividends checks. Rather, the primary purpose of credit unions is—and always has been—to be of service to their members. That means you. 

    This people-first philosophy doesn’t just mean better service: It translates into a better financial deal for consumers. Credit unions, on average, offer higher rates of return on savings accounts, lower rates on loans, and fewer and lower fees than other financial institutions. 

    Data collected by the Credit Union National Association show that through the first half of 2016, credit union members saved $9.3 billion over what they would have paid at banks: $1.9 billion through higher yields on savings, $1.2 billion on lower fees, and $6.2 billion on lower loan rates. 

    As is our tradition, we will celebrate International Credit Union Day with a potluck lunch and flag display. We celebrate the cultural richness and diversity of our staff by encouraging everyone to bring in a dish to share and by decorating our café with flags representing our many heritages. 

    There is a contest for the best potluck dish, and the competition is stiff. But there’s no contest when it comes to benefits of credit union membership. Learn more about the benefits of membership at Congressional Federal, and remember: Your dreams thrive here.
     
  • Our Commitment to ADA Compliance

    Sep 25, 2017

    ADA Compliance Notice


    Congressional Federal is committed to accessibility. We take accessibility very seriously, and to that end we are currently working to ensure that our website fully complies with ADA standards. Thank you for your patience during this process.

    Many site-wide changes have already been made to meet these guidelines and remove barriers for users who visit us on the web. This is an ongoing effort and a constant priority as we add new content to the site and evaluate for compliance.

    The changes we are making help make our site more accessible to a wide range of people with disabilities such as blindness and low vision, deafness and hearing loss, learning disabilities, cognitive limitations, limited movement, speech disabilities, photosensitivity, and combinations of these.  

    We will continue implementing additional accessibility features as the interpretations of existing and new guidelines evolve, working to ensure that all visitors to CongressionalFCU.org have full access to its features and content for the best user experience possible.

    If you encounter difficulty accessing any part of our website or need assistance, please contact our Accessibility Team at 800-491-2328, option 5, then option 3.



    Our statement on ADA compliance available here. It is accessible from the "About" tab in the main navigation and from the copyright section in the footer of the website.
  • Equifax data breach

    Sep 08, 2017
    Equifax, one of the big three credit bureaus, announced yesterday that a data breach within their systems may have affected 143 million Americans, potentially compromising Social Security numbers, birth dates, physical addresses, and some driver's license numbers.

    The investigation is still ongoing, but Equifax reported that the breach also jeopardized credit card numbers for roughly 209,000 consumers and dispute documents with personal identifying information--dispute information, copies of driver's licenses and other IDs--for approximately 182,000 consumers.

    Where can I find out if my information was compromised?


    Equifax has set up an incident website where consumers can can learn more and check whether they’ve been impacted by the breach. Consumers will be asked to provide their last name and last six digits of their Social Security number. Based on that information, they'll get a message indicating whether their information may have been impacted. 

    All consumers will then be given the option to enroll in TrustedID Premier, a 3-bureau credit monitoring service (Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union) operated by Equifax. (If you wish to enroll, please note that Equifax will not provide a reminder, so you will need to write down your enrollment date.) Note that the website may have spotty availability for a day or two as it receives a lot of traffic. If it is not working when you visit, you may wish to try again later.

    What else can I do?

    Review your free credit report from annualcreditreport.com

    Consumers have a right to request one free copy of their credit report per year from each of the three major bureaus through annualcreditreport.com. Things to note:

    • You may get your free annual credit report from each of the bureaus at once, or stagger them throughout the year.
    • The free credit reports do not include your credit score. The credit bureaus will offer the option of including your score for a fee.
    • The credit bureaus only issue the free annual reports through annualcreditreport.com or the telephone number and address below, not directly from the individual credit bureaus or through any other website claiming to offer free credit reports.

    • Web: www.annualcreditreport.com 
      Telephone: 877-322-8228
      Mail: Annual Credit Report Request Service
      P.O. Box 105281
      Atlanta, GA 30348-5281

    From CO-OP Financial Services:

    • Reset account passwords, PIN codes and other log-in credentials on financial accounts that may be vulnerable.
    • Establish multiple-authentication protocols for financial accounts and email, when possible

    From our partners at BALANCE:

    • You may consider placing a credit freeze on your files. A credit freeze makes it harder for someone to open a new account in your name. Keep in mind that a credit freeze won’t prevent charges from occurring on existing accounts.
    • Monitor existing credit card and financial institution accounts closely for charges that are not recognized.
    • You may also consider placing a fraud alert on your files. A fraud alert warns creditors that you may be an identity theft victim and that they should verify that anyone seeking credit in your name is really you.

    BALANCE is also offering a free Identity Theft Solutions webinar on Wednesday, September 20th from 2-3 pm PST. Register for the webinar here.

     
    More Resources

     

  • Press Release: Disaster Relief Response to Hurricane Harvey

    Aug 31, 2017


    DISASTER RELIEF RESPONSE TO HURRICANE HARVEY

    WASHINGTON – In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, Congressional Federal Credit Union is offering a variety of Disaster Relief programs and resources to members and eligible non-members who may be affected in the Gulf Coast region. These offerings have been designed to meet both immediate and long-term financial needs in the wake of a natural disaster:

          •     Payment deferment on existing loans
          •     Line-of-credit limit increases
          •     Waiving early certificate withdrawal penalties
          •     Relief line of credit
          •     Suspension of automatic payments, transfers, and DBOs
          •     Personal loans
          •     Financial coaching

    “We recognize that this storm may have caused great personal hardship and financial stress to hundreds of our members” said Mark Lobato, Vice President of Service and Solutions. “It’s very important to us to reach out with every tool at our disposal to help them get back on their feet.”


    Anyone looking to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath can consider looking into organizations providing on-the-ground assistance:

          •     Red Cross: www.redcross.org/donate/hurricane-harvey
          •     Salvation Army: www.helpsalvationarmy.org
          •     United Way: www.unitedwayhouston.org/flood/flood-donation/

     

    Congressional Federal Credit Union was founded in 1953 to serve the U.S. House of Representatives and its family members. The organization has grown to serve all employees of the U.S. House of Representatives, Architect of the Capitol, U.S. Capitol Police and over 120 select employee groups throughout the Washington area.

    #   #   #


    Hurricane Harvey Press Release 8.31.17 PDF
  • CO-OP Shared Branch Network Overtakes Big Banks

    Aug 17, 2017
    The CO-OP Shared Branch network that Congressional Federal is a part of is providing convenience that even big banks can't beat.

    "The CO-OP Shared Branch network has passed Chase in number of branch offices, making the credit union cooperative the second largest network of financial institution branches in the country," CUInsight reported in August.

    "The shared branch network enables members to enter the branch of any participating credit union and conduct their business as if they were in their own home branch," the article said. 

    “Shared branching is to credit union members what Uber is to passengers looking for a nearby ride,” said Todd Clark, President/CEO, CO-OP Financial Services. “It’s the best example there is of why credit unions are different than banks – they share! Around 1,800 of the 6,100 U.S. credit unions share their branches. In addition, more than 3,000 are part of our CO-OP ATM network. When you couple-in digital services, credit unions offer a financial ecosystem that is convenient, accessible and a positive force in communities.”


    Continue reading CO-OP Shared Branch Network Overtakes Big Banks .
  • Four Tips to Boost Your Credit Score

    Jul 05, 2017

    First thing’s first: there is no magic solution to raising your credit score overnight.

     

    If you have a low score due to, say, bankruptcy (which can affect your credit for up to seven years), boosting it requires a long-term plan of consistent on-time payments, and other responsible credit practices.

    However, a low score due to a lack of credit can jump much more quickly. Check it out:

    Fix errors on your credit reports

    According to the Federal Trade Commission, one in four credit reports contains small errors, which can affect your score. Errors might include false information attributed to you because of identity theft or just a simple mix up, accounts that don’t belong to you, and more.

    If the mistake negatively affected your score, you can expect it to improve in approximately 60 days after correction, reportedly.

    Pay off credit cards every month

    If you pay off your debts, you’ll see your score go up. That doesn’t mean you should run out and buy things you don’t need, however. Instead, charge expenses like bills and gas (things you already pay for in cash) on your credit cards, and pay them off every month.

    If you’re struggling to cover your existing debt, create a debt management plan to free up extra cash.

    Stay away from your credit limits

    Paying down the debt will improve your creditworthiness, and help your “credit utilization” (the amount of debt you have relative to your credit card limits). When you get closer to your limits, you reduce your available credit, which is bad for your score.

    So bring down your debt to an acceptable amount as defined by the credit bureaus, and your score will improve.

    Set up automatic payments

    Your credit score takes a hit with every late payment. That’s because payment history comprises 35% of your score. If you struggle to remember when money is due, set up automatic payments with your credit cards. It’s an easy way to stay punctual and—barring other major marks against your credit—turn your score around in a relatively short amount of time.

    More Resources

    Watch our Credit Basics webinar for more advice on how to build, manage, and improve your credit.



    Article courtesy of BALANCE.
  • 2017 Congressional Baseball Game for Charity

    Jun 23, 2017

    Since 1909, the Congressional Baseball Game for Charity has been a beloved summer Hill event when Congress moves its work from the floor to the field to support local youth organizations. This year, the charitable mission of bipartisan cooperation took on an even deeper meaning. Players, spectators, and well-wishers nationwide rallied to honor the five Capitol Hill community members wounded at a team practice on Wednesday, June 14th: Senator Steve Scalise (R-La.), staffer Zach Barth, lobbyist Matt Mika, and Capitol Police Special Agents David Bailey and Crystal Griner.


    Teams pray. Reuters: Joshua Roberts
    Reuters / Joshua Roberts via CBS News

    The evening was full of moving tributes to the wounded and to all everyday heroes in the Capitol Police force. Players gathered on the field before the game for a moment of silence and a group prayer. Thunderous cheers erupted when Mr. Bailey made a surprise appearance to throw out the first pitch. Staffers waved signs reading “SCALISE STRONG” and "Capitol Police M.V.P.” And after the Democrats won 11-2, Democrat manager Rep. Mike Doyle (Pa.) presented Republican manager Joe Barton (Texas) with the trophy to put in Rep. Scalise’s office until he returns to Congress.


    Getty photo: Crowd signs
    Getty via Politico

    Thursday’s game broke records in both attendance and donations: 24,959 fans helped raise $1.5 million dollars. The New York Times reported that ticket sales for the game “were higher than nearly every other major league game.” Proceeds went to the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Washington, Washington Literacy Center, and Washington Nationals Dream Foundation. Organizers added the Capitol Police Memorial Fund after Wednesday’s events.  


    Getty photo: Stadium viewGetty via Politico

    It’s an honor to sponsor this event every year. It’s a unique Capitol Hill tradition, and more importantly, it’s one that serves kids in our local community. But the Hill community extends far beyond the bounds of the beltway, and that connection felt particularly profound—and particularly strong—this time around.

    Players lined up from 1st base to 3rd base
    The view from our seats.
  • 2017 Wright Patman Scholarship: Winners Showcase

    May 31, 2017

    Scholarship-email-banner
    Contest ended March 31st, 2017.

    This spring, we awarded three $3,000 scholarships to graduating high school seniors based on their academic standing and their responses to an essay question:   

    How would you promote financial literacy among your peers?

    2017 saw a record number of entries for our annual scholarship. The Board selected the winners for their thoughtful explorations of how they've learned fiscal responsibility and how others can start learning early, too.

    We're proud to have the authors as members, and we wish them all the best in their bright academic futures and beyond.

    Read the winning essays!


    Essay 1

    "Wright Patman Scholarship Application"


    When I received my acceptance letter from Yale University, I dropped to the floor and screamed at the top of my lungs. I had worked for years for this moment, and I was overjoyed. I floated in a bubble of pride and happiness for a week, until my financial aid package arrived. Seeing the cost of tuition—$60,000 a year—knocked the wind out of me. I was absolutely crushed.

    I allowed myself to panic for 24 hours, and then I got to work. I scoured dozens of scholarship websites searching for ones I was eligible for. I spent hours writing essays and compiling recommendations, tweaking my resume and competing with thousands of other kids for the handful of lucrative merit scholarships. It has been exhausting and stressful, and it's completely overwhelming for most of my peers. Luckily, I have a unique advantage.

    As a junior, I was hired by a local scholarship program, the Pittsburgh Promise. I spent my summer learning about financial aid specific to post-secondary education, and I learned more than I ever had in school. In one week of training I was taught about differentiating between types of loans and interest rates, how to appeal to a school for scholarships, the average debt for graduates, and the earning potential for students based on the number of years of education they receive. My work currently includes talking to my peers about scholarship applications and the financial aid process in general. Every conversation is a reminder that our system of developing financial literacy is flawed at best and nonexistent at worst. Students don't know where to look for scholarships, don't know how to compare aid letters, and don't know why going to college is worth it when their student loans will be so staggering.

    In my experience, I've found that financial aid information is scattered and extremely difficult to sort through. A sophisticated database of scholarships would be an incredibly useful online tool for students. For example, a student could filter through options by income level, aid amount, and deadline. Programming a search engine that could do the work of clicking through hundreds of links in seconds would help give more opportunities to millions of kids and their families.

    Through the Pittsburgh Promise, I've conducted financial literacy nights for students and their families. At such events, I introduce people to scholarship programs as well as help explain the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. I've also conducted presentations for each grade in my school to explain the basics of the financial aid process, but one assembly every semester is not enough. I believe that making better and more accessible tools will help every student achieve their full potential.



    Essay 2

    "Promoting Financial Literacy"


    Financial literacy is an integral part of living in the modern world, and is more important than ever as my peers and I enter into the financial world. As I conclude my senior year in high school, one of the most important lessons I learned in JROTC was to lead by example. If I am financially literate myself, I can help others to understand the importance of the financial world and to know how it works. I have recently opened a credit union savings account, and in the future will open an IRA for retirement savings. Since I am preparing for these now, I will be able to help my peers in the future to navigate potential pitfalls and help them, as they help me, on how to succeed in our financial endeavors throughout our lives.

    Among peers, it is extremely important to encourage discussion, especially with subjects some might not be familiar with. Being able to bring up discussions on this topic with my friends will allow us to explain complex ideas and bring to light different approaches to the same problem in order to find the best possible solution. Collaborating with a group can bring forth ideas that otherwise would never surface.

    Along with a group discussion program, I would set up both a financial literacy club and a mock investment club. A financial literacy club will allow me to educate other students on the importance of finance and the knowledge needed to understand it. A mock investment club is an interactive way to introduce students to the stock market and to understand the best ways and the right places to invest.

    One of the most important tools to use in learning financial literacy is to question others who have a great deal of experience, both positive and negative, in managing their finances. I would encourage other students to meet with their parents, grandparents, professors, and anyone else who has been in the financial world for a long period of time. Experience is one of the best teachers, and if I encourage students to speak with others, those students could pass on the knowledge they learned to others.

    I would also encourage my peers to follow Motley Fool, listen to their podcasts, and use the tools they provide. My father is always listening to their podcasts about financial issues. My peers are familiar with podcasting and could gain a lot of information about financial literacy in this way. I'd encourage my peers to sign up to the Motley Fool Facebook page and follow many of their correspondents on Twitter.

    In a world so influenced by money, financial literacy is a must if you want to succeed. As many students do not have an understanding of this, it is important to encourage it among my peers, so they can encourage it around others. Though there is much I can still learn financially, I am glad I can make an impact on what other people think and help them to become more literate themselves.



    Essay 3

    "Wright Patman Scholarship Essay: How Would You Promote Financial Literacy Among Your Peers?"


    When I was fifteen years old, I got my first paycheck job at a landscaping company. A member of the project crew, I was to work on installation of decks, patios, garden beds, and foliage. I quickly found how hard the work was, especially being the youngest employee by a margin of seven years. By the end of the summer, I had averaged a forty hour work week, learned how to operate a Bobcat, and had more money in my bank account than ever before, but each dollar seemed so much more valuable.

    This was the first of many summer jobs. In later years, I would work at three different restaurants, a summer camp, and a landscaping center. Each summer, I drop off cover letters and resumes for a variety of prospective job opportunities, and work over forty hours a week consistently. From my work experience, I have obtained a value for money which most my age do not possess. My parents have never given me an allowance or any spending money, so when friends decide to go out to eat or see a show, I must decide when and how to use the money I have painstakingly earned at a minimum wage job.

    My junior year of high school, I traveled to Europe to live and study abroad in Zaragoza, Spain with thirty five hundred dollars in my bank account. This was my funding for the year. All my expenses were to be paid for with this money I had made the summer prior, working as a busboy for nine dollars an hour. Halfway through the year, the students were granted the privilege of "Independent Travel," essentially trips throughout Europe free of staff or parent supervision. This was my biggest financial challenge yet. On each trip, I was faced with the responsibility of covering the expenses of a train, hotel, food, activities, and all other travel costs on my own dime. While my friends could simply depend on the bottomless ease of parental funding back home, I was forced to meticulously select the cheapest and most economical ticket, dinner, or hostel bed.

    By supporting myself fiscally for the last five years, I have learned a lot about the value of money. Developing frugal traveling habits in Spain, I came to understand that sometimes, traveling cheaply can lead to a better experience. Explaining this to traveling companions, we grasped the best ways to vacation on a budget while still enjoying ourselves and experiencing each city to the fullest. Taking the extra ten minutes to search for a cheap train ticket, make our own breakfast with bread and peanut butter, or finding a backpackers hostel instead of a room at the Marriott let us stretch out each dollar a little further. By sharing the positive working experiences I have obtained, I can encourage peers to seek summertime employment. From this, my peers will shift from viewing money as a consistent thirty dollar a week allowance from parents, and rather a valuable asset that is made through hard work and spent carefully.