Credit card offers still allowed at GW

GW has not banned credit card companies from soliciting on campus, despite other local colleges prohibiting credit card vendors.

GW has policies to control their activity, said Mike Gargano, assistant vice president of Student Academic and Support Services.

Hundreds of colleges already banned credit card companies from soliciting on their campuses, including Georgetown University, the University of Maryland and Marymount University, according to a Washington Post article entitled Collegiate Credit Cards Increasing.

Sidewalks are considered public property, so solicitors are allowed to set up stands there, Gargano said. Credit card solicitation is also permitted in the Marvin Center but only if the company is sponsored by a student group or University department, Gargano said. The sponsoring groups usually receive some form of compensation from the credit card company, he said.

Companies also are required to pay a table rental fee of $300 and provide students with pamphlets on credit card debt and money management, Gargano said.

Gargano said the administration monitors the credit card solicitation carefully and is sure not to book more than one company soliciting on a particular day. Credit card companies are not allowed to bombard students with sales pitches – they must remain seated and have students approach them.

He said efforts to educate students regarding credit card debts are also made at Colonial Inauguration.

Gargano said he believes credit cards are a good thing, helping students become responsible citizens. He said credit cards only become a problem when people act irresponsibly and foolishly.

I don’t think it’s any more unique to GW than it is to any other campus, Gargano said of credit card solicitation and credit card debt at GW.

Cheryl Beil, one of the researchers in a study about credit card usage among GW students who get financial aid, said she found students who used credits cards wanted more purchasing power. She said other students used credit cards as a method of filling the gap between the financial aid they get from GW and the actual cost of living at GW and in Washington, D.C.

Beil’s study also showed that about 20 percent of seniors have four to five credit cards, 50 percent of sophomores and juniors have two to three cards and about 70 percent of freshmen have at least one credit card. Of the freshman students with credit cards, a large percentage had credit cards before coming to GW.

Beil, who is also the director of Academic Planning and Assessment at GW, said even if the University were to ban credit card solicitation on campus, the problem of credit card debt would not be solved. She said companies still would be able to attempt to sign up students on the sidewalks or through the mail.

Beil said credit card companies are now making some effort to educate students on the dangers of credit card debt. Credit card companies are also imposing a limit on the amount of money that a student can charge on a credit card per month. Beil said one type of credit card can only have as many charges as the amount of money the student has in his or her bank account. She said this type of card can be helpful to students by not allowing them to spend more than what they have.

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