Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Debit Cards and Colleges; An Unholy Alliance

Colleges are courting the Devil - the Debit Card Devil. Debt counseling and money management are urgently needed on Campus! Hard pressed for funds, Colleges are resorting to "quiet" side deals to the detriment of its students. By this time most students are aware of some of the traps in credit cards, especially the killer default interest rates. The implication or at least the inference drawn by most people is that Debit Cards Are Safe:. THEY'RE NOT!

During the summer break, students and their parents, guardians, sponsors etc. should pay attention to the increasing use of, and demand for, Debit Cards on College Campuses by the Colleges themselves. The furor over credit card interest and fees has quieted (for now) but a more insidious replacement has arisen; Debit Cards.

A PIRG study, demonstrates that debit card using students have traded a headache for an upset stomach (I realize that shows my age but...). I was a banker for 18 years and ran failed banks and S&Ls for FSLIC and then FDIC. That part of me wants to delve into the extent the colleges have accepted payoffs for signing contracts with Debit Card Issuers that expose their students to legitimized financial crimes; transaction fees, overdraft fees, annual fees, a fee for being late paying a fee...

The Consumer Finance Protection Board ("CFPB") should jump into this mess but it has its hands full, especially with a Congress beholding to the Banking industry. In the meantime States' AGs could take up the fight. It will be easier than the Student Loan problem which is not getting any better in the near and maybe distant future. Here there are no issues with Federal agencies being the card issuers.

Every college, with an agreement with a debit card issuer, should be forced as part of disclosure regulations to explain, in plain English, with documentation provided, how much the college is receiving and what "arrangements" were made with the administration, development office, and financial aid office for starters.

Oh, and maybe, as a mandatory Freshman year course, all colleges should have a 1 credit course in financial management covering topics like budgeting, all forms of plastic, the full cost of attending school, and the probable length of time it will take to pay back student loans. In fact, maybe the college should have to credit each debit card user with student loans, at least one-half of the fees the college received to the Student's student loans

Author's Copyright by Richard Isacoff, Esq, July 2012

No comments: