This is the story of the little credit union that couldn't.

Ever since the George Washington University Employees Union was founded three years ago, it huffed and it puffed in an uphill struggle to become a profitable financial institution, one that could offer low-interest loans to its members.

However, last month, after finding it never could get the support of more than 800 of the university's 6,100 employes, the credit union closed its doors.

Just where its doors were located was one of the credit union's chief problems. Although the credit union was for employes who worked in Foggy Bottom, it was located in Silver Spring in the office of a management company that runs six other credit unions.

Members could send deposits by mail, but they had to go to Silver Spring to apply for loans and to withdraw their funds if they needed the money immediately.

But the credit union officials believe the location wasn't the institution's main problem. Instead, they blamed the university for its reluctance to institute a payroll deduction plan for credit union members.

"I think they didn't work hard enough to help us," said Margaret L. Vann, the credit union's acting president.

"From the time we started, we negotiated strenuously with the university" to get a payroll deduction through which money in members' paychecks would be subtracted automatically and sent to the credit union, according to each member's specifications.

Without the convenience of such a program, most employes rather would deal with a bank or savings and loan institution that offers the same, if not higher, interest on deposits, Vann said.

University officials said the deduction scheme was impossible to accommodate under the computerized payroll system in effect when the credit union started.

Shortly after the credit union's request, the university began to redesign its payroll system to accommodate more deductions, but the redesign was completed too late for the credit union -- the new system was launched just days after auditors of the National Credit Union Administration advised the GW employes' group that it was time for them to close.

Among other things, the auditors found that the officers themselves were having problems running the credit union, noting that they had failed to meet once a month as federal rules require.

At its close, the institution had only 700 members, $58,000 in assets and $52,000 in outstanding loans.

Robert L. Marquette, chief of liquidators for the NCUA, called it "a very small financial institution that just never got off the ground."

Marquette stressed that members will be reimbursed by the NCUA's shareholder insurance fund, and said that the members still will have to pay loans.

The GW group joins more than 129 other credit unions that have been liquidated this year. Most went bankrupt as members withdrew their money to invest it in other instruments with higher interest yields, such as money-market funds.

But the GW story was different. According to Vann, "We never got that far. We were still dealing with the start-up problems when we folded."