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Watchdog Urges Transparent Deals on Marketing Student Financial Products

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Tuesday urged financial institutions to publicly disclose the deals they have made with colleges to market financial products, such as debit cards and checking accounts, to students.

Earlier this year, the agency opened an inquiry into such products, and this fall students and consumer advocates criticized many of those financial arrangements at a forum arranged by the bureau. Some students said they had felt pressured to sign up for services such as high-fee debit cards.

Deals between credit-card companies and colleges are already subject to public disclosure, but the agency has said that campus financial arrangements have shifted away from credit cards and toward other products, such as prepaid cards and debit cards. The bureau’s latest annual report to Congress on college credit-card deals, also released on Tuesday, showed a continued decline in those arrangements.

Ethan Senack, the higher-education associate for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, praised the agency’s call for greater transparency in a written statement.

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