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Chris LoCurto

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March 8, 2011

Come Here Kid!

March 8, 2011 | By | 3 Comments">3 Comments

The Washington Post reported on a new way that banks are taking advantage of people – in this case, college students.

Shortly after students show up on campus, they receive a welcome letter that contains a MasterCard from a company called Higher One. But this isn’t your run-of-the-mill credit card. It’s a card that accesses student loans. That’s right, students can use the cards to add debt to their student loans that they already can’t afford. Not only that, but the cards also come with high fees.

So this company is essentially targeting kids who are in debt and have no money of their own (Right? Or they wouldn’t have a loan.), is encouraging them to spend more money they don’t have, and then topping it all off with high fees.

This is genius! Why hasn’t someone thought of this before? Let’s get all of our graduating students in horribly desperate situations and send them out into the workforce. That ought to make for some open-minded, creative, happy workers.

According to the report, college officials contend that the loan cards make it easier for administrators and can provide income for cash-strapped schools. So… let’s get students further in debt so the school can make more money? This is ridiculous!

The article goes on to quote Anne Gross, legislative affairs director for the National Association of College and University Business Officers, as saying, “Sometimes people are looking for evil intent where there is none.” Riiiiiiiiight, because this plan is angelic!

If you’re a parent of a college student or a soon-to-be college student, there are three things you can do to avoid the college debt trap:

  • Edumacate ’em – It is your duty to make sure your kids leave your house as responsible adults. Please tell me you’re not expecting the school to do that. Make sure that they understand how to handle money by budgeting and living on less than they make.
  • Scare ’em – Do everything you can to teach them the dangers of debt. Show them how they are going to be tempted, and basically attacked, by offers that sound really good but will make them slaves to debt.
  • Hit ’em – On their cell phone, that is. Make a point to stay in touch with your kids and hold them accountable. You want to know what they’re doing in their relationships and if they’re staying out of trouble. It’s the same with money. Ask them how they’re doing financially and find out if they’ve been approached about debt. It will train them to always be on the lookout.

On top of all of this, pray! I promise, you can’t do too much of that. Think about the pitfalls you constantly had to navigate at their age – and then multiply them by 10!

Question: What great advice do you have for students starting out?

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  • Cass Sitterly

    My Daughter received one of these cards- and it sits undisturbed on the letter it came in on. It is amazing debt scams continue– from the days when I was in college when we would “fundraise” by getting other students to sign up for Visa Just sing- we get money- no harm no foul… , now this. They loan out “extra” and You get to decide where to put it… like refusing it is out of the question and you can’t live without it. To make matters worse, the Fed loan program continually sends letters stating- no need to start paying us back yet- we will be giving you more money soon- when in fact you are being charged interest and paying it back early on is the best idea. The whole program – for those who don’t have a better plan at hand (I confess my first kid is my guinea pig, but maybe by the next one I will have a firm grasp on a better approach) needs more clarity. I am not the dimmest bulb and I get confused–I read the fine print and act early- I pray for the families that are hanging on by the skin of the teeth and thinking no one would scam them at this point in their life- wrong!!!!!

  • Mike

    Sound advice Chris but a little out of order. Prayer should be first. We need the blessings of God to help in these tough times.

  • http://www.ricardoequips.com/ Ricardo Butler

    I wish I would have heard of Dave Ramsey and Financial Peace University and Chris LoCurto hosting the EntreLeadership Podcast (and Dave’s book) BEFORE I started going to Full Sail University. I graduate in 3 months. I probably would have not even going to school. I would have just started a business or did the self-employed thing back then. That’s my advice for those students coming behind me.