Students seeking credit cards will not find offers marketed on campus.
Although recent federal reforms, effective Feb. 22, placed limitations on campus credit card marketing, the University of Colorado Student Government took a step ahead in not allowing credit card marketers to target its college students years before.
According to a study conducted by Sallie Mae, 91 percent of undergraduates have at least one credit card and carry an average of $3,173 in credit card debt.
The survey indicated 92 percent of undergraduates use credit cards to pay for educational expenses.
While necessity drives many college students to open lines of credit, some students encourage others to stick with cash.
A 21-year-old junior Japanese major, Sonya Sanchez, who has had a credit card for three years, originally opened it to build credit and has used the card since to pay bills but suggests others should do without.
“I would not encourage it,” Sanchez said. “It is too easy to be irresponsible.”
Maya Caruth, a 16-year-old junior at East High School in Denver, has had a credit card to pay for lunch and necessities for three years and said cash is more effective in teaching money management.
“Cash helps to be more responsible than credit cards,” Caruth said. “It is easy to spend when [you’re] not spending money you can see. I would not encourage it because it tends to make people less responsible with spending habits.”
Other CU students agreed that cash is more manageable but opening an account should still be a personal freedom.
“There are not a lot of ways to screw up with cash,” said Jenner Paulson, an 18-year-old open-option journalism freshman. “I do not think you need one but it should be the students’ choice depending on what they need.”
Kiah Karlsson, a 24-year-old English and ethnics studies double major, said she first opened an Elevations Credit Union credit card to pay for expenses.
“There was not a lot of marketing for the credit card but when I opened [the checking account], they said it comes with the option of a credit card,” said Karlsson, whose credit line is maxed out. “I decided to take care of some things I was needing to do for a while.”
The convenience of not having to carry cash also motivates some students.
“It is convenient to have one,” said Nhan Do, a 21-year-old biochemistry senior. “It is not safe to carry cash.”
For some students with credit cards, parental encouragement helped guide the choice to open one.
“My mom encouraged I get it,” said Alysia Ramos, a 20-year-old international affairs junior, who said she is glad to be building credit. “My mom loves spending.”
Building credit seems to be one of the leading motivators in opening a credit line for some students.
“It is a great way to build credit and a good way to manage money,” said Hannah Steffey, a 22-year-old biological sciences and Japanese double major. “I pay off the balance because I do not want to pay interest.”
Steffey, who also said she is savvy about credit cards and money management, said she remembers when her dad, who works for the university, would come home with gifts from credit card companies in the past but does not think it is a good idea to market to college students.
“It is not a good idea to market college campuses,” she said. “A lot of college kids do not understand the concept of managing money and a lot of college kids are ignorant with what is really involved.”
David Billingslea, a 2008 journalism alum who does not have a credit card, said it is better to use cash than a card.
“People I know have credit cards because of toys and have deep credit card debt,” Billingslea said. “It’s like people are trying to prove something and elevate their possessions to show a higher standard of living than they may be at.”
In 2002, CUSG adopted a bill denying credit card companies and other agencies from soliciting credit cards in CUSG cost centers (including the UMC, the Recreational Center and Wardenburg Health Center), according to the 57th Legislative Council Bill 15, dated Oct. 11, 2002.
The decision was made after a study showed 78 percent of college undergraduates have at least one credit card carrying a balance of $2,748, according to the adopted credit card bill, both statistics much lower than current findings.
The bill states that, “To further indebt the members of the student union, it is inappropriate to allow credit card companies to actively solicit at the UCSU Cost Centers.”
If credit card companies do show up on their own, they are immediately asked to leave university grounds after being explained the policy, said Jimmie Baker, associate director of operations and services for the UMC.
Recent federal reforms, which became effective Feb. 22, place strict limitations on marketing and issuing credit cards to young people and consumers younger than 21. Offers for gifts as enticements for students to sign up for credit cards cannot be conducted within 1,000 feet of school property.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Christine Larsen at Christine.firstname.lastname@example.org.