All Charged Up
On September 4th, I
visited the University Bookstore and was pained to see a table
at the front door urging our new students to sign up for a bank
card that even had a Penn logo on it. Surely we are all aware
of the seductive nature of easy credit, particularly in the hands
of inexperienced youngsters. The newspapers as well as conversations
with friends relate many tales of large debts incurred by young
people before they realize that there is no free lunch.
I believe that offering
credit cards to our students is actually predatory behavior by
banks, which are happy to have these youngsters carry sizable
debts that incur interest (money rental) rates often over 15%!
The fact that the University actually facilitates our students
in obtaining the cards, clearly aware of the huge potential for
abuse, seems contrary to our charge to educate and care for them.
Moreover, the fact that the University receives a percent of what
the students charge with these cards is cynical to the extreme.
We should be teaching our youngsters to live within their means;
rather, we are creating the implied message that the University
is happy to see them adding to their debt! Can't we keep
these predators off campus?
-- Rob Roy MacGregor,
professor of medicine-infectious
Director of HUP AIDS
Clinical Trials Unit
Thank you for sharing
your feedback regarding the Penn MBNA credit card program that
is currently marketed on campus. We share your concern about
young people understanding the nature and implications of credit. In
fact, one of the primary criteria for selecting MBNA as a partner
was their sensitivity and demonstrated commitment to helping students
establish and manage credit responsibly.
MBNA, a recognized
leader in credit cards programs in higher education, has a specialized
program that demonstrates their awareness that the student market
must be handled with particular care. The company typically
assigns low initial credit lines to students, raising them only
as students demonstrate their ability to manage their accounts
responsibly. A credit education brochure is included with
each new MBNA credit card to help students understand what they
must do to build and maintain good credit for the future.
Although there is certainly
the potential for abuse, many students and parents believe that
credit cards are important in emergency situations and to facilitate
transactions like purchasing plane tickets or shopping on the
Internet. Unlike other credit card options that students
may pursue, the Penn MBNA credit card program provides participants
with an added communication channelPenn can enable a prompt
response from MBNA to any questions or concerns.
It's also important
to note that the Penn MBNA credit card program provides financial
support for a number of University initiatives as well as campus
and community services. UC Brite, a West Philadelphia neighborhood
initiative that provides lighting for 123 square blocks, is one
MBNA also sponsors
credit usage seminars, which educate students about the importance
of maintaining good credit and on using credit responsibly. Penn
will host one of these seminars later in this semester and
again in the spring. We will continue to monitor the performance
of MBNA to ensure that they are living up to their commitments
as well as our expectations.
President of Business Services
Almanac, Vol. 50, No. 7,
October 7, 2003