PenFed?

UHBlackhawk

Member
Am I off base for thinking there is something going on with PenFed? It seems New Cadets are forced to change bank account information to PenFed during R-Day, including prior service cadets who already had a bank account set up with another institution. I have not heard of this before in the military.
 

jl123

Member
Am I off base for thinking there is something going on with PenFed? It seems New Cadets are forced to change bank account information to PenFed during R-Day, including prior service cadets who already had a bank account set up with another institution. I have not heard of this before in the military.
Not the case, unless it was new for 2021. All cadets are required to have an account with Pen Fed since it is where USMA keeps the cadet account, but they can still have their monthly stipend sent to their bank of choice - mine uses USAA.

USMA sets up the Pen Fed account for each cadet. When the balance gets above a certain amount they can "top off" and transfer excess balance out of the cadet account. This occurs at the start of Yearling year for most, but may vary depending on individual choices about computer and other equipment and whether or not to pay the $2,000 deposit upfront..
 

Dad of 2

Parent
Our DD (plebe) now has a PenFed account. Honestly, I do not know much about it (not that I really should); however, she has said that she will be using her USAA and Wells Fargo accounts. She felt pressured to sign up for a Pen Fed account. Our DD has her direct deposit going into her Wells Fargo account because we did not get a USAA account set up until late. A couple of "local" USMA cadets that she talks to frequently have suggested she close her PenFed account. I think she will closing the account when she has some time.
 

USMAROTCFamily

5-Year Member
Our DD (plebe) now has a PenFed account. Honestly, I do not know much about it (not that I really should); however, she has said that she will be using her USAA and Wells Fargo accounts. She felt pressured to sign up for a Pen Fed account. Our DD has her direct deposit going into her Wells Fargo account because we did not get a USAA account set up until late. A couple of "local" USMA cadets that she talks to frequently have suggested she close her PenFed account. I think she will closing the account when she has some time.
I didn't think they could close the PenFed account, as I thought this is where the funds get deposited for books and other items. I wish they could just deposit it into the regular bank accounts the cadets select for their "Pay" to be deposited into.
 

Dad of 2

Parent
You are correct, the PenFed is the account that expenses come out of. But from what I have been told by the newly name "Cadet Accounting Services Office" ("treasurer" in my days there) plebes cannot touch this account until June of their Yuk year, (June 2018 for a current plebe) again different than when I was there. If there is any money left in this account at commissioning, those monies are then paid to the cadet (2LT). We added additional monies to this account ($2500 deposit and additional monies out of a 529 plan (with our accountants approval, please see your own financial people before doing this)) so that upon commissioning our DD will have a check cut to her. Our current plan is to not add any additional funds to this account. Our DD's "pay" is going to a different account!
 

UHBlackhawk

Member
Our DD (plebe) now has a PenFed account. Honestly, I do not know much about it (not that I really should); however, she has said that she will be using her USAA and Wells Fargo accounts. She felt pressured to sign up for a Pen Fed account. Our DD has her direct deposit going into her Wells Fargo account because we did not get a USAA account set up until late. A couple of "local" USMA cadets that she talks to frequently have suggested she close her PenFed account. I think she will closing the account when she has some time.
Pretty much what my DD said. She was pressured to change her direct deposit to PenFed. Her pay has been messed up since.
 

jl123

Member
Some of the confusion is that USMA actually sets up 2 Pen Fed accounts for each cadet. One account is the "Cadet Account" and it is that account in which total pay and expenses are accounted for. You can not close this account. When the balance of this account exceeds the required balance, you can transfer the excess to a personal account - this is referred to as "top off".

The other account is a personal account - this is the account into which the monthly stipend (spending money) is transferred if the cadet has not chosen another bank. I do not know whether or not this account can be closed - I assume it can be closed, but would check for any downside before doing so.
 

USMA 1994

Member
My DD said they were all pressured to open their personal account as well by the Pen Fed rep during Beast but she did not.

Everyone must have the one Pen Fed that acts as the cadet account. If they opened a second account during Beast, they could close the personal one at anytime.
 

ca2midwestmom

5-Year Member
Pen Fed is where book money goes each semester. A cadet can transfer/withdraw the money or use the debit card to purchase books. Anything left over is theirs to keep. It is separate from the cadet account (they can't touch/use/close) as mentioned above.

When my Firstie signed up as a Plebe, three Pen Fed accounts were opened -- the checking acct for book money, a savings account, and a third (small optional loan, I think). He has a separate checking account (from home) where his pay was deposited the first two years. When he took the Cow loan last year, the Cow loan money had to be originally deposited to a new USAA account. He's since changed his monthly pay direct deposit to his USAA acct.
 

jl123

Member
I talked to both Pen Fed and USMA Treasurer and have clarification on Pen Fed, pay, Cadet Account, etc:
  1. Monthly Pay: The monthly stipend cadets receive is transferred to the bank of their choice through the Army pay system and not directly from the Cadet Account.
  2. All cadets must have a Pen Fed account. They cannot close this account. It is the only account to which USMA can transfer money from the Cadet Account.
  3. Cadet Account: Not one of the Pen Fed accounts. It is a separate account administered by USMA that cadets can view online through their USMA portal. They can see the amount of top off available and request that amount be transferred to their Pen Fed account.
  4. There are 3 accounts with Pen Fed: Regular Share Account, Access America Account, and Thrifty Credit Service Account
  5. Regular Share Account: Savings account required by Pen Fed of all members as part of their charter as a credit union. USMA does not conduct transactions to this account.
  6. Access America Account: Checking account. It belongs to the cadet and is not the Cadet Account. USMA Treasurer transfers money to this account. Some expenses such as uniforms are deducted directly from Cadet Account, but some for some expenses, such as books, money is transferred to this account for the cadet to use. Top off money is also transferred to this account.
  7. Thrifty Credit Service: Line of credit for overdraft protection on Access America Account.
 
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