Coping with credit issues

As incoming freshmen set foot onto new ground, they will face
more life-changing decisions than simply how to coordinate their
dorm rooms. They will also face the option of extended credit in
the form of plastic money.

College students are often targets for credit card companies.
While some students use their newfound freedom to apply for credit
cards, others take a personal stand against them.

“If you owe someone money, in a sense, they own
you,” said Daniel Acevedo, anthropology senior. Acevedo said
he stands debt free because of his parents’ influence.

“My parents have taught me that credit cards equal
debt,” Acevedo said.

Acevedo said he pays mostly with a check-card and is aware of
the repercussions that follow using cards for purchases.

“It’s just a swipe away,” Acevedo said.
“The amount of the dollar might not register when
you’re just swiping a card.”

David Harris, fine arts senior who carries a credit card, said
he advises students applying for credit cards to “realize you
will have to pay [the charges] off at some point.”

Harris said he has used a credit card for six years. When he was
16, his mother got a joint account to teach him responsible
spending.

“I don’t use it for very many things, only for
necessities—school, gas, food,” Harris said.

According to the Oklahoma College Student Credit Card Study from
October 2003, “150,000 young people under the age of 25 will
file for bankruptcy.”

Matt Hamilton, associate vice president for Admissions and
Records and Financial Aid, said in an e-mail that students who fall
into debt are usually “those who lack discipline in
spending,” because they “will find it challenging to
control the utilization of something as accessible as a credit
card.”

Students who do run into credit problems are not alone. Student
success seminars are advertised every semester by financial aid
staff members, Hamilton said. Hamilton said hesuggests that
students who need professional financial help, contact the Consumer
Credit Counseling Service in Norman.

Funding college expenses can be accomplished by ways other other
than credit, Hamilton said.

“In many cases, it will be more prudent to borrow an
educational loan instead of relying on a credit card,”
Hamilton said.

Jessica Fulton, nursing and psychology senior, said she has
acquired more than six credit cards over five years, which she uses
to purchase school supplies, books and clothes. Fulton says that
her debt is “not out of control,” but she would rather
be spending her money elsewhere.

Fulton said students who are approached by
“annoying” credit card companies should “not
acknowledge them; they’ll pull you in. It can definitely turn
into a problem if you let things go. Be smart about it.”

Copyright The Oklahoma Daily