GREENWOOD, S.C. (WSPA) — Some students at Emerald High School in Greenwood are cashing in on a new opportunity to learn about personal finance.

“I always tell the students that come in, ‘I wish I had this opportunity,'” said Samantha Byrd, marketing and business development manager for Greenwood Municipal Federal Credit Union.

This year, Emerald students can take a banking services class, where they learn about money and run a Greenwood Municipal Federal Credit Union branch right inside their school.

“When somebody comes in, they either want money or deposit, I’m here to help them,” said sophomore Ti’Quae Ryans. “If they want to check and see what’s in their account, I’m here to help them.”

“The Branch” is an extension of the credit union and is located inside the school’s cafeteria.

“I’m pretty hopeful that a lot of people are going to open accounts,” said senior Fernando Flores. “It is pretty exciting to have this at our school.”

Students run the branch, taking shifts during lunch periods. Credit union leaders said it’s quick and easy to set up an account.

“A student can come in and open up a savings for $5. If they want to open up a checking, it’s $1,” said Byrd.

Students said the class is already paying off, giving them a leg-up on how to manage their money.

“It’s pretty fun, me at age 16, getting to learn all this right now,” said Ryans.

Credit union leaders said they’re learning real-life skills, helping them beyond the classroom too.

“We not only teach financial education, we teach real-world experiences, how to communicate, what to wear for a job interview, what to say in a job interview and things like that,” said Byrd.

In order to take the banking services class, students had to apply, get references, and go through an interview process.

This is the second credit union branch in the district. In 2020, a branch opened at Greenwood High School.