New School News

Lisa Servon Talks Banks and the Poor in The New Yorker

The numbers have been circulating for months now: 17 million people nation-wide are “unbanked”—the common buzzword used to describe those who use alternative services to fulfill financial needs. But why do low-income people avoid traditional banks? The answer comes down to money.

Lisa Servon, professor at The Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy, spent four months working as a check casher at a RiteCheck cash checking facility in the Bronx, and her insights complicate the increasingly difficult movement to increase financial inclusion in America.

Typically, scholars and advocates for incorporating the large unbanked population into the formal financial sector decry exorbitant rates from payday loans, as well as the fees from everyday activities such as cashing a check and sending money. But a lack of transparency at banks hides charges greater than those from the alternative services. In a recently published op-ed in The New Yorker, Servon discusses why banks don’t do a good job of serving the poor.

Learn more about Lisa Servon’s work here.

Take The Next Step

Submit your application


To apply to any of our Bachelor's programs (Except the Bachelor's Program for Adult Transfer Students) complete and submit the Common App online.

Graduates and Adult Learners

To apply to any of our Master's, Doctural, Professional Studies Diploma, Graduates Certificate, or Associate's programs, or to apply to the Bachelor's Program for Adult and Transfer Students, complete and submit the New School Online Application.