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April 8, 2004 :: High Campus Credit Card Use Prompts Action

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Concerned about the amount of credit card debt Oklahoma college students are accumulating, the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education recently adopted a proposal that asks institutions to ratchet up their credit card education efforts and intervention strategies.

The Council on Student Affairs (COSA), a key advisory council to the Chancellor and the State Regents regarding issues and policies affecting students, presented an action plan to implement recommendations resulting from a study conducted last fall by the Center for Student Affairs Research at the University of Oklahoma. The study examined the use and misuse of credit cards by Oklahoma college students.

“For about two years, we have been working with the colleges and universities to address concerns with students using credit cards,” Chancellor Paul G. Risser said. “The first step was to survey students to learn about problems and possible solutions. I think the study and these recommendations address the concerns.”

After reviewing the findings within the study and the steps institutions were already taking to curb credit card abuse, and receiving further advice and recommendations from student leaders and groups across the state, COSA officials developed and proposed the following strategies:

“We believe the action steps COSA is proposing will help students manage credit card debt. These recommendations are targeted at those who need help the most and at all students early in their college lives before they can accumulate too much debt,” Risser said.

More than 4,000 Oklahoma college students participated in the credit card study in 2002, which showed how college students obtained their credit cards and how they used them. It also revealed the amount of credit card debt and other types and amounts of debt students accumulated.

Among the findings in the survey, students owned an average of two major credit cards and had incurred an average debt of $2,607, compared to a national average of three to four cards per student and a debt of $2,748. Nearly half of the surveyed students also indicated that they owned at least one major credit card before college, and that percentage jumped to 90 percent by the end of their sophomore year. In addition, they stated that pre-approved solicitations from credit card companies and general mail solicitations from banks and other financial institutions influenced their decision to obtain their first and subsequent credit cards.

One of the major concerns revealed in the study was that credit card debt negatively affected students’ studies and extracurricular activities, as well as their decisions to reduce course load or remain in school in order to pay off debt. They also blamed themselves for their indebtedness and not the credit card companies or colleges they attended.