As the cost of college tuition rises, students are putting more educational expenses on their credit cards, pushing their debt to record levels.
In Feb. 2010, a new federal bill will take effect, restricting students under the age of 21 from having a credit card.

Credit card companies often advertise on college campuses across the country, offering free T-shirt giveaways and mailing applications to their on-campus mailboxes. Upon seeing such enticing offers, students often sign up unaware of the consequences and the potential for racking up debt they may acquire.

Enter the passage of the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act.

This amendment will enable students to gain access to credit in a responsible manner.

The bill was created to protect millions of consumers from relying on credit cards, but the buzz surrounding the bill has been met with mixed reactions.

“I think it’s a good idea because we can still get a credit card to help us build our credit, but at the same time learn responsibility with the amount of money we will be allowed to spend,” said Ali Childs  ‘11.

Freshman Chelsea Picarazzi agreed that, “it’s a smart idea because no one wants to be in debt.”

According to an article in The Wall Street Journal, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) said, “Credit cards are a tremendously valuable and useful tool for consumers, providing them with relief during critical moments. This is a very important industry …We just want it to work better.”

According to Sallie Mae’s research, more students are paying for educational expenses such as books and school supplies with credit cards. And they’re doing so more and more often.

In 2008, students charged an average of $2,200 in educational expenses to cards, up 134 percent from four years earlier.

“I think the point of a credit card teaches you responsibility,” said Lauren Davidow  ‘11.

“And I think it should be stricter because people are being irresponsible with money that isn’t theirs.”

“The message is clear,” says Edmund Mierzwinski, consumer program director for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. “Students are carrying more debt on credit cards, and more students are paying for education on credit cards.”

According to, with this new reform, millions of credit card users will avoid retroactive interest rate increases on existing card balances and have more time to pay their monthly bills, greater advance notice of changes in credit card terms and fewer penalty fees, late charges and interest payments.

Pennsylvania Senator Robert P. Casey said, “the passage of the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act is a victory for consumers that will provide a measure of relief and security.”

“Building credit and building responsibility are important and people just don’t understand that,” said Ruby Mateo  ‘10. “It affects everything, if not now, then further down the road in life.”

Did You Know?

  • The average undergraduate carried $3,173 in credit card debt last year.
  • In 2004, the last time the study was done, students carried an average of $2,169 in card debt.
  • The higher the grade level, the greater the card debt.
  • In 2008, college seniors with at least one credit card graduated with an average of $4,138 in card debt, up 44 percent from 2004.
  • By comparison, freshmen’s average credit card debt jumped from 27 percent to $2,038.
  • In 2008, students charged an average of $2,200 in educational expenses to cards, up 134 percent from four years earlier.

-Above facts are according to Sallie Mae (data is based on poll results)

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