The war on plastic is escalating. A national consumer group announced today a new campaign to limit credit-card marketing on college campuses. The Public Interest Research Group’s Education Fund wants colleges and universities to ban credit-card giveaways and stop providing the companies that issue them with lists of students’ names, among other practices.
More than a dozen states already prohibit or limit credit-card marketing on their campuses.
“College students are vulnerable, they’re already hammered by the high costs of education,” said Ed Mierzwinski, the group’s consumer-program director. “Credit cards can seem like a solution, but they can be a trap.”
Mr. Mierzwinski said the group planned to do “counter-marketing,” including giving away goodies, such as lollipops that say “Don’t be a sucker,” on 40 campuses. The group has also created a Web site, Truth About Credit.
Several higher-education groups, including the American Council on Education and the National Association of College and University Business Officers, are supporting the campaign. Organizers also plan to sponsor research on the effect of credit-card debt on students, and to urge colleges to do more to educate students about credit-card debt.
Gwendolyn J. Dungy, executive director of Naspa—Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, a group that is also backing the campaign, said one challenge was to appeal to students in the same way that marketers do. It would seem that another is distinguishing between students who are financially responsible and those who are not.
“One of the things we have to walk a fine line on is this: At what point are students vulnerable,” Ms. Dungy said, “and at what point do students really need a credit card?” —Eric Hoover