“Opiate-Like Addiction Besets College Campuses In The U.S.”
Parents and students alike have prepared for this first day of school in college. The hard studying and sacrifice have brought them to their first day of college. Years of preparation and planning have set the stage for what lies ahead to obtain the brass ring, a college degree in their chosen field. Taking the SATs, competing for acceptance at the college of their choice then going through orientation, moving in, getting settled and prepared for the first class with all the crisp new books with stiff pages all ready for starting the learning process. None of that preparation could have prepared the student or their parents for what they were going to be offered right out of the box.
If you can imagine, walking back from the first full day of classes, it’s near dusk and the sun is starting to fall. From the shadows, a call is heard. PSSTTT…PSSTTT…PSSTTT.” “Hey, kid do you want some CREDIT.” Hat pulled down barely covering the face with an unsightly trench coat pulled up almost to the ears a figure emerges from the shadows. The student says, “CREDIT? WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT MAN.” The figure speaks again, “You know, plastic, the kind you carry in your wallet.” The student answers back, “Look I’m a new student, I won’t have a job for maybe four plus years from now and I’m going to be loaded with student loans.” The figure replies back, “That’s not a problem. Why we will even give you six months free interest as a token of our appreciation for doing business with us. After that, it’s just a LOW monthly payment on any of your expenditures you may incur. We can make it SO EASY. Just sign your name and you’re in the program.” The student is taken aback by the offer. The student says. “Don’t I need my parents permission or some type of credit references?” The figure feeling that the student’s interest has been piqued says, “No, you can do it on your own. You do want to join the grown up world and take on the persona of an adult don’t you?” “Ok then, just sign your name here and a card will be mailed in a few days.”
And so it goes. College students across America are being solicited with offers of credit about the same time they set foot on campus. Complicit in this, the colleges are selling student names to the credit card companies. Several colleges have been sued recently to stop this informational exchange rooted in a belief that this is throwing gasoline on a fire. The upside of all this is college students establish a credit file. The downside, quickly things can get totally out of hand and go south in a big hurray. Let’s face it, with every day financial demands on college students and their parents there are plenty of things tugging at their sleeves which may or may not be a necessity. Student loans, parent loans, scholarships just don’t cover every anticipated need. There is always an emergency.
The temptation is to grab some help being offered by the credit company issuers. The rational follows from the student, “I can handle it. I can manage this. It won’t be a problem.” A few months down the road, it is a problem. With no job, income or means to meet this additional monthly payment the financial strain begins to be felt. The credit card companies showing some compassion towards the student’s plight raise the credit limits. Perhaps even a cash advance is incurred. Before the student knows what is really a small payment, is now a big nut to meet every month. Minimum payments barely make a dent in the total credit card debt. Parents are pulled into the sticky web with pleas for additional financial assistance. This scenario is being played out every day. It’s almost like students are being set up to fail with perhaps hopes by the issuer that the parents may save the day. Many parents have their own plate full and cannot help with anything. While payments are missed in what started out as an effort to build credit is now a witness to plummeting credit scores. It wouldn’t be a total loss except for the fact that car insurance and many other things in life are keyed to a credit score. A low score leads to paying more for the service in some cases. When this starts all falling down, the additional financial pressure is an unwanted distraction to the required focus for studies and the end game. The credit card harassing collection calls doesn’t help concentration.
What to do? Like many attractive addictions, at some point you have to take the cure. A student may beyond the “Just Say No Stage”. To do nothing is not an option. It now may be necessary to reduce the credit hours and take a part time job. Four years stretched to five is not so bad if one can reduce and eliminate the accumulated credit card debt and reduce the dependence on student loans. There is no guarantee of a ready job after graduation. Student loans will survive a nuclear attack. There is no relief other than payment. Avoidance of credit card debt is the first option, barring that, if the student is buried in debt some will need to leave school OR just plan on ignoring the calls of “PSSTT…PSSTT…” from the shadows and keep walking and stay focused on the goal.
About the Author: Dale Rogers is a thirty-year mortgage veteran and frequent contributor to the Broken Credit Blog The BCB is a free website created to assist the general public with information about credit repair and responsible mortgage lending.