Students from 20 colleges and universities across the county
delivered letters to their school administrators Thursday asking
for greater transparency about school partnerships with financial
Under the 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
The letters 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
This student action is in response to mounting concerns about
the kickbacks schools may receive from banks that sell products or
operate on campus.
Financial 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
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 risky practices."
Echoing these concerns, the
U.S. Government Accountability Office released a
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.
Once secret credit card-college marketing deals to
Students, credit cars and the new reform law: the
GAO urges changes in college-provided debit