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Published: Thursday, 10/29/2009

Credit card solicitations get booted off campus

BY LARRY P. VELLEQUETTE
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

Change is constant on college campuses, but it takes a keen financial eye to notice what is no longer plastered over every wall and bulletin board: credit card solicitations.

An upcoming change in the laws governing credit promises to rid campuses nationwide permanently of the high-pressure sales tactics and promise of easy credit that has snared so many college students in debt over the years.

Passed in May, the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act of 2009 will, beginning in February, prohibit credit card issuers from signing up anyone under 21 who either doesn't have a co-signer or the ability to make payments on their own.

The law also will prohibit credit card companies from passing out free goodies - such as T-shirts, hats, or pizza - on campus or at events such as football games to lure students into filling out applications.

Once ubiquitous across college campuses, credit card solicitations in the form of posters, brochures, and handbills have become increasingly scarce not only because of the new law but also in the wake of last year's credit crisis.

Students at Bowling Green State University "are still receiving solicitations in their [residence] mailboxes, but we haven't had people on campus soliciting for credit cards for years," BGSU spokesman Dave Kielmeyer said.

The university has a ban on such solicitations and tries to encourage students' financial stewardship through its student money management program.

Matt Lockwood, a spokesman for the University of Toledo, said that credit card companies, as well as other potential vendors, are required to get written permission from the university before they can solicit in person on campus.

Jessica Merritt, the director at Carter Hall, an on-campus residence primarily for freshman at the University of Toledo, said credit card solicitations may come to residents there on an individual basis, but mass solicitations from credit card companies don't occur in the residence halls any more.

A study of student debt trends this year by Sallie Mae, an educational financing organization, found:

•30 percent of students put tuition on their credit card, an increase from 24 percent in 2004.

•92 percent of undergraduate credit cardholders charged textbooks, school supplies, or other direct education expenses, up from 85 percent in 2004.

Students who used credit cards to pay for direct education expenses estimated charging $2,200, more than double 2004's average of $942.

Contact Larry P. Vellequette at:

lvellequette@theblade.com

or 419-724-6091.



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