Creditors prey on college campuses

Posted Oct. 19, 2007

Credit card companies are everywhere using any means possible to grab students’ attention and urge them to purchase their buying power.

From time to time, these companies can be seen on our own campus.
Starting right at freshman orientation, the companies waste no time in making themselves seen.

“Get Blue for Students. Special Student offers!” is just one of the many lures students are bombarded with when they are surfing on the Internet.

Then tomorrow we’ll head to the mailbox and pull out an envelope proclaiming, “Zero percent APR Student Card with rewards!”

All the while our television in the living room is bellowing: “Limited Credit History? Capital One offers a card with no annual fees!”

Most offers appear too good to be true, using low interest rates, cash rewards, and no annual fee to rope in vulnerable students who are signing up for their very first credit card.

Since we all don’t have our own financial advisers, we should be able to look up to our University to take on the task.

Since many students are away from home, we don’t have the comfort of being able to ask, “Mommy, what do you think I should do?”

With all of the fancy language used by companies, it’s difficult for anyone to understand what exactly the offer entails.

In 2004 alone, 76 percent of college undergraduates had credit cards with an average outstanding balance of $2,169.

In an attempt to build credit, many just find themselves stuck in a deep hole of accumulating debt.

Teaser rates are used to lure students wit an introductory rate of zero percent.

After about six months, this amazing rate miraculously jumps all the way up to 18 percent, which is 10 percent more than the average credit card.

Recently a coalition composed of the American Council on Education and the National Association of College and University Business Officers made statements in an article published by the Los Angeles Times concerning credit cards on college campuses.

They are hoping that schools will abstain from taking gifts from these companies, putting up flyers on campus, and stop the lenders from making deals with groups on campus.

So what’s being done here on our own campus? Who gets the ultimate decision concerning which companies get to advertise to the students?

Whoever you are, we ask that you please take into consideration that the rest of our financial lives are at stake here.

These companies need to be filtered out as some sort of insurance that students will have a safe haven from being bombarded by credit cards with hidden offers that lend themselves to ruin our credit.

These schemes designed by credit card companies not only affect our financial future, but may also inhibit other areas of development from buying a new car, getting a loan on a house and more. Also, the trauma resulting from overwhelming debts may leave students feeling helpless and trapped.

“Maxed Out,” a recent documentary by filmmaker James D. Scurlock, exposes credit card companies for preying on overwhelmed college students. In this film, Scurlock follows two families who lost their sons to the pressure of credit card debt.

How can we protect ourselves from this fate?
We need to be able to have someone we can trust to help us read the fine print that’s just a little too fine.

To be able to properly shield students from bad deals, it would be helpful to have financial advisers to work with closely to further ensure a student gets a worthwhile credit card that won’t lead to unmanageable debt.

With the Learning Enhancement Center, Student Health Center and the Counseling Center, various aspects of our current career as students are being taken care of. But why not our credit?

Instead of being in fear of owning a credit card, students should have the choice to feel confident in applying for one that won’t ruin their credit.

Credit cards offer the choice to spend money that one wouldn’t otherwise have, which could prove useful for students in the long run if we have someone to ensure that we are safe in the scheme of things.

So it’s time for some new headlines: “Limited credit history? No worries! The University of La Verne can help!”

Creditors prey on college campuses

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