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from 20 colleges and universities across the county delivered letters to their
school administrators Thursday asking for greater transparency about school
partnerships with financial institutions.
Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act, colleges
and universities are required to disclose information about college credit
cards. However, students want administrators to take that a step further and
disclose all bank and financial institution partnerships that exist on their
"Students are a very financially vulnerable
population," said Kaitlyn Griffith, a student participant at the University of
Denver. "We are still trying to find our sea legs in the financial world, so to
speak, so any kind of financial transparency will only help us be prepared to
make decisions that will benefit us in the long run."
distributed Thursday asked for more information about student-centric products
such as debit and prepaid cards, preferred private student loans and financial
aid disbursement. Students are concerned that they are entering into agreements
with financial institutions under the impression that schools are independently
advocating for a particular bank or service, not because they are being
compensated for doing so.
"Disclosing that information respects the
humanity of students and doesn't treat them as a product that can be sold
between the financial institutions and the school," Griffith said. "It would be
valuable to know when the university is making a profit off me."
action is in response to mounting concerns about the kickbacks schools may
receive from banks that sell products or operate on campus.
It would be
valuable to know when the university is making a profit off me.
|-- Kaitlyn Griffith
Student, University of Denver
institutions have shifted from offering credit cards on campus to marketing
products and services that don't fall under federal disclosure requirements, a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
report issued in December found. This change in behavior has some officials concerned.
"Students and their families should know if
their school, whether well-intentioned or not, is being compensated to
encourage students to use a specific account or card product," CFPB Director Richard
Cordray said in a written statement that accompanied the December report. "When
financial institutions secretly give kickbacks to schools, they are engaging in
these concerns, the U.S. Government Accountability Office
released a report on
Feb. 13 titled, "College Debit Card: Actions Needed to Address ATM Access,
Student Choice, and Transparency," outlining consumer concerns related to fees
passed onto students, a lack of free ATM access, and a host of other issues. The
report recommended that debit and prepaid card providers be required to file
their college financial agreements with the CFPB for public review.
See related: Once secret credit card-college marketing deals to be revealed, Students, credit cars and the new reform law: the fine print, GAO urges changes in college-provided debit cards