I have 3 months left in grad school, currently with about $50,000 in student loans (most of it at 6% interest). I also need to finance or lease a used car. Suppose I select a car with a sticker price no higher than $20,000.
I have no other debt, and a spotless credit history (I don't know my actual FICO). I'm 29 years old and have no dependents. My degree is highly technical and in demand. I've already secured a job for after graduation, with a base salary of $85,000 plus bonuses (assume 10%+). The line of work has reasonable career advancement opportunities (i.e., I expect more than "cost of living" raises). I also have $25,000 in cash, which is for living expenses over the next few months, moving after college, etc. The remainder I will use to pay down debt, leaving enough so I don't end up living paycheck-to-paycheck. I feel I'm a decent candidate for credit. I'd like to make the best financial decisions possible.
1) Are credit unions a good option for me? Particularly with respect to refinancing my student loans and helping finance or lease a decent car. Are credit unions likely to offer me membership?
2) How do I select an appropriate credit union? My father is a member of some credit union that was serving his teachers union. Besides that, I have no ties to any credit unions, associations, community networks, etc. My line of work is investment management and I will be living in the Los Angeles area after graduation.
Please let me know if more information is required for feedback.