Responsible use of credit a must for students
They should practically be in the welcome package. Every student is most likely familiar with the mountain of credit card solicitations that inevitably arrive in the mailbox after enrollment to MSU.
It’s doubtful many people are surprised to see them. College is a time for students to learn how to be adults, and credit cards are undeniably part of the average American adult’s life.
What might surprise some — but definitely not all — is that it’s actually MSU that is indirectly responsible for the solicitations.
The university is nearing the end of a seven-year, $8.4 million contract with Bank of America Corp. — which purchased MBNA Corp., the original holder of the contract with MSU.
In exchange for the addresses and phone numbers of MSU’s students, faculty, staff and alumni, the bank pays MSU $1 for every credit card that stays open at least 90 days and 0.5 percent of all retail purchases made on the card. Since 2005, the university has netted at least $11 million.
Now, there’s nothing really wrong with the university benefiting from students opening — and keeping open — credit cards. The reality of the situation is that regardless of whether the university participates, students will open credit cards.
At a time when MSU consistently raises tuition every year to meet budget shortfalls, it would be crazy not to tap all revenue streams.
The current arrangement could stand some improvement, however.
Some freshmen arriving for their first year of college simply are unprepared for financial independence. By enticing them to succumb to numerous credit card solicitations, it becomes something like forcing a gambler to walk through a casino.
A simple solution to the problem would be to include a form in the welcome package allowing students to opt out of the agreement.
We wouldn’t even object if it’s simply a tiny form that easily can be overlooked — just having the option would be enough to quell some of the criticism.
What is more questionable is giving MSU an incentive to encourage wild spending on credit cards. It doesn’t take a giant leap for someone to ask why the university should encourage responsible spending when it receives a cut of every purchase.
We’re not saying MSU is out to get students to spend as much money as possible on their credit cards. We certainly haven’t seen any signs advocating wild spending sprees on campus. It still could create an impression of a conflict of interest, when MSU urges students to spend their money wisely.
That’s not to say students are innocent bystanders in all this.
Too many students are taken in by cheap giveaways of pizza and T-shirts in exchange for applying for a credit card. In this time of economic crisis, the once-thin margin of error for finances has become nearly nonexistent. With a dire economic outlook, where once it was simply stupid to go into unneeded debt, it’s now almost suicidal.
Both students and the university need to take to heart the lessons the U.S. economy is currently learning. If not, there is only ruin at the end of the road for all involved.