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College Credit Card Agreements Continue to Decline

December 16, 2014

The number of colleges that partner with financial institutions to offer credit cards has dropped by nearly 70 percent since 2009, according to new data from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The consumer bureau on Monday released its annual report disclosing which colleges have arrangements with credit card providers to offer their products on campuses or to other university-affiliated groups. By the end of 2013, the report says, there were 336 agreements in effect, compared with the 1,045 agreements in 2009 when Congress first required public disclosure of the contracts.

As credit card providers have sought fewer arrangements with colleges in recent years, debit card providers have boosted their footprint in the campus financial services market. Consumer protection officials and advocacy groups have said they’re concerned about abuses from companies that provide debit cards on campus, in part because those products aren’t subject to the same disclosure rules as credit cards.

The Education Department created a rulemaking panel earlier this year to hash out new regulations on campus debit cards, but the committee failed to come to a consensus on the rules. Department officials have not pushed ahead with the proposal.

Maxwell Love, the president of the United States Student Association, which has pushed for the rules, on Monday said that the department “is absconding its duty to protect students by not issuing a strong rule.”

Banks and other financial institutions, meanwhile, have lobbied heavily against the new regulations on debit cards. Richard Hunt, president of the Consumer Bankers Association, said in a statement Monday that “it remains unclear how positing proprietary contracts would benefit consumers, and what evidence exists which shows consumers are being harmed by these agreements.”

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Michael Stratford

Michael Stratford, Reporter, covers federal policy for Inside Higher Ed. He joined the publication in August 2013 after a stint covering the Arkansas state legislature for The Associated Press. He previously worked and interned at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine and The Chronicle of Higher Education. At The Chronicle, he wrote about federal policy and covered higher education issues in the 2012 elections. Michael grew up in Belmont, Mass. and graduated from Cornell University, where he was managing editor of The Cornell Daily Sun.

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