Important Credit Card Law Changes Parents & College Students Need to Know

Most American college students use credit cards. However, many young people don’t always handle them properly, and often face late fees, increased rates, and high balances. Many of the problems are due to a lack of knowledge, or simply not handling cards responsibly. Although many of these problems are the result of bad habits of young adults, consumer groups believe many of these issues are the result of practices of credit card companies. To help address this issue, Congress passed new laws to restrict the ways card companies handle credit card arrangements with consumers.

Credit card companies will be required to follow the guidelines:

The changes generally require credit card companies:
-to increase disclosures to card holders.
-to provide more lead time or advance notice when changing terms.
-to limit their marketing activities on or near college campuses.
-to require increased parental involvement in credit card activities of individuals under 21.

More detail of these new requirements and information on money issues affecting young adults and their parents are available on the website

Student Gambling at College Campuses

Gambling on college campuses is becoming a serious problem. With so many online gambling sites, as well as the proliferation of casinos around the country, it is fairly easy for a student to get in trouble.
Poker competitions are popular on television and have likely generated an increased interest in poker playing among young people. There is an excellent article by Steven Friess in the NYTimes about what college are (and are not) doing about this problem. College parents definitely need to be aware of the topic of student gambling problems.

Borrowing for College Impacting Students Futures

As a result of the increasing debt levels, college students are having to delay many life events.
The level of borrowing grew dramatically last year. The U.S. Education Department reports that student-loan disbursements—the amount borrowed by students and received by schools in the most recent school year jumped by about 25%.
These higher borrowing levels are likely due to the poor economic climate combined with the increasing costs of college. Estimates vary, however approximately two-thirds of students borrow to cover the costs of college. This percentage is significants higher than it was ten years ago. New grads are often cash strapped due to high student loan repayment requirements. As a result, they often have to delay personal milestones such as buying a house, starting a family, etc. This trend is likely to get worse for current college students.

Given the high costs of college and the common need to borrow, it is critically important for parents to make sure their student is using their student loans only for true educational costs. Unfortunately, too many students use loan proceeds to pay for lifestyle related costs and non-essentials.

We will be adding some posts with tips for lowering college costs and reducing student loan levels.

Ideas for Unemployed students and grads

Up until the last year or two, it was fairly easy for college grads to find jobs- times have certainly changed! The fact that recent college grads are having a terrible time finding jobs is not news to anyone.

One of our favorite authors and innovative thinkers, Seth Godin, just wrote a great article on his blog which provides some great suggestions for new unemployed college grads who have not found jobs: check it out: Graduate School for Unemployed College Students

Credit Card Debt is climbing on Campuses

Due to increasing costs of college and tighter economic conditions, college students appear to using their credit cards for basic living costs, as well as books, fees, etc.
Credit Card debt levels of college students are at a historical high. Unfortunately, the interest cost on credit cards is generally much higher than other types of debt, such as student loans.
One of the leading causes dropping out of college is financial problems. When financially strapped, students tend to work more hours at their PT jobs to cover their expenses and debt. Unfortunately, their grades can suffer, or they are forced to drop classes.

College Students are often Clueless about Money Matters

Many College Students desperately need to learn money skills.

The list below represents typical quotes from college students on the topic of money matters. A basic understanding of money management is a critical part of the daily responsibilities of college and adult life. Although many of the statements seem comical to experienced adults, they illustrate why so many young people get into financial trouble. We suggest parents spend time teaching their students money skills, or provide them with a quick money management course as the one recommended below:

Money issues are probably the top reason students drop out of college. With that in mind, our Pick of the Month is the excellent course Money Management for Young Adults – this self study video & ebook course clearly explains essential money skills that college students need to understand.

Quote examples of College Students:
-Spending $1,000 using my new credit card is way cheaper than writing a $1,000 check, because I only have to pay back $20 per month.
-The bank must be wrong, my account can’t be overdrawn, I still have 10 checks left in my checkbook
-I think someone’s ripping me off on my first paycheck, who are these people FICA and FUTA, and why are they getting part of my paycheck
-I just got my first credit card, I love it, when this one’s full, I am going to apply for a couple more.
-I am already getting credit card applications in the mail, but my mom is too uptight to let me have one. Once I move out, I’m going to get a bunch of cards, and finally get some cool stuff.
-I am going to work 25 hours a week this summer and will make $8 an hour. I’ll be able to afford that new SUV, and still save tons of cash for college tuition.
-I make $80 a week at my part time job and buy lots of awesome stuff. My parents both work full time, but they’re so cheap, they never buy anything.
-Having a ton of student loans doesn’t really matter; by the time I have to pay them back, I’ll be making the big bucks.
-I don’t worry about filling out my income taxes, my dad always ends up doing it for me, I guess he likes doing it. He’s kind of weird that way.
– I heard that collection agencies can’t bother you until you’re out of college.
– If you never leave college, you never have to pay back your student loans.

College Freshman – How to Overcome Lost Motivation (part 2)

By Talia Goren

College Student Talia provides the following tips which should be useful for college freshmen as well as college parents:

This is part 2 of College Freshmen – How to overcome Lost Motivation, see part 1

Another thing you should consider is having “me time”. I know sometimes this also may seem impossible, but even taking ten minutes a day to just breathe can often be a saving grace- and very important. It gives you time to ask yourself questions about how you’re feeling and also makes sure you are centered enough to begin the workload you have.

However, sometimes the workload is just too much. It feels impossible and you simply do not want to go back and do it again. When this happens you really need to ask yourself why you’re feeling this way. On the one hand, being pre-med, for example, is a challenge because you are working yourself to the bone, but on the other hand- you’re going to have a doctorate- and that’s pretty cool! But is it worth it?

Of course it is. But maybe you just need a different, more positive outlook on things. Whenever you’re feeling bogged down and unmotivated- even unsure of yourself, take a deep breath and look inward. There’s a reason why you started this journey in the first place, give yourself the opportunity to complete it. Go for a walk, have coffee with a friend- do what you have to. It will remind you what life is really about and how important it is to have an education- even if it seems nearly impossible. With a little bit of gumption and some good jokes- you can get through anything!

College Freshmen – Lost Motivation – How to Overcome

By Talia Goren
College Student Talia provides the following tips which should be useful for college freshmen as well as college parents:

I’ve lost my motivation….What do I do?

The first semester in college is probably one of the hardest/most rewarding experiences of a person’s life. Not only is it a culture shock- as college life is totally different from anything else- but it’s also more work, more responsibility, and often completely different challenges than you were ever used to before.

So how do you stay motivated?

If you read my other article, I’ve always been a fan of writing lists. It doesn’t have to be in list form necessarily, but purely the act of writing something down helps people solidify their thoughts. What would you write exactly? Well for starters, pro’s and con’s. Think about what you truly enjoy about going to your school. Is it the teachers? Your classes? Maybe even your sorority or fraternity. Whatever makes you happy- write it down. When you’re feeling really unmotivated and questioning why on earth you decided to spend upwards $40,000 dollars for brain breaking work- look at this list!

Also, write down some of your goals for the next four years. Why did you decide to go to this school in the first place? If you’ve already done this, revise it, or rewrite it according to how you’re feeling now. Often just remembering a positive feeling that you had when you started something difficult is enough to offer motivation.

Don’t hesitate to share this with other people either. Whether it’s a professor, a fellow student, or even your parents (because you know they want to know, even if you don’t want to tell them- you’d be surprised at their good insight!) talk it out- both your negative and positive feelings.

Do these things as often as you feel you need to- repetition also helps solidify things in your brain. And who knows, maybe your lack of motivation means you need to change something. Rehashing all the details while looking back in time to the beginning of your college career can often help you decide.

End of part 1 of 2 More tips for college freshmen and other college students on staying motivated. Part 2, which will be posted shortly.

Care Packages for College Students (part 2)

This is Part 2 of our earlier post about Ideas for gift baskets or care packages for college students.
In case you missed it, here is part 1: Ideas for Care Packages for College Students.

Gift Ideas and Care Packages for College Students (continued)
By Jen Danowitz

A Touch From Home
Sending along something personal, such as a picture of the family dog or a funny card, can uplift any student. This will cheer your child and motivate him or her to get through even the toughest course load.

• Recipes
o Add a few recipes of home cooking. If a kitchen is not easily accessible (some residence halls have community kitchens), think of creative recipes that can make-do with dry food and a microwave. Put together the ingredients in a Ziploc bag, and send it all along.
• Coupons or gift cards
o Go online to check out the local restaurants or grocery stores near your college student’s campus. Sending a few $5 gift cards to the local coffee shops or pizza places, along with a to/from note on the back of each card, will give your child a smile and a gift s/he is sure to use.
• Cater to your son or daughter’s interests
o Include items you know your child enjoys, but would not typically purchase because of a budget. Keep an eye out for sales, and stock up on items you know your child will love. Make-up, lotion, magazines, CDs, comic books, etc.—think of what will make your child smile and add it to the package.
• Stories from the local paper
o Cut out and send along stories featuring people or places your child will appreciate. This allows him or her to stay connected with what’s going on at home, and from a source s/he can hang up on a bulletin board.

The Holidays
Including something that relates to an upcoming holiday can brighten any student’s spirits and make the dorm room a cheery, homier environment. Send along room decorations such as streamers, holiday light strands or holiday themed tablecloths; and add small treat bags with seasonal sweets for your son or daughter to enjoy. Include a few extra treat bags for your child’s roommates—reaching out with a gift from home can help ease homesickness by encouraging your child to connect with his or her new “home.” Keep in mind everyone loves to see what’s inside a friend’s care package, so send a little extra for your child to share.

Keep checking back for more ideas and suggestion for care package ideas for college, and gift suggestions for college students.