An Analysis of the Current Status of Student Debt: Implications for Helping Vulnerable Students Manage Debt

Summary


Too many students are having serious problems with credit card debt. This debt can lead to the student's dropping out of school in the worst case; however, even when the students stay in school, they begin their careers saddled with excessive debt. Over half of today's college students own one or more credit cards, and the more credit cards students own, the greater the likelihood that they will have serious debt problems. Our survey of over 4,000 students indicated that as students progress through college, they acquire more credit cards and debt; furthermore, our survey indicated that students who work 10 or more hours per week are more likely to report debt problems than those students who work less than 10 hours per week. Married students report the fewest debt problems while divorced students report more debt problems than single or married students. Students should be educated, the earlier the better, on how to make wise financial decisions. This article reports the findings of a survey of over 4,000 college students from Arkansas, California, and Ohio. The results indicate which factors or characteristics are related to significant debt problems, and recommendations are made for helping students avoid making unwise financial decisions.

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An Analysis of the Current Status of Student Debt: Implications for Helping Vulnerable Students Manage Debt

INTRODUCTION

One of the most natural transitions for students arriving at college is to obtain a credit card. Offers for easy-to-obtain credit cards flood many campuses each year, and credit card companies often used free items (e.g., t-shirts, ball caps) to attract student customers. Indeed, credit card offers are so numerous that some colleges have begun to ban or at least limit the presence of credit card companies on campus (Waggoner, 2005). Yet, according to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal (July 18, 2006), students are still obtaining credit cards with more than one-half of the students carrying at least one credit card that is directly billed to them. In fact, Ma...

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