Campus Cards, College and University Identification and Security

PIRG examines what it calls "Campus Debit Card Trap"

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) has issued a report about banks and their partnerships with college campuses. The title of the report is “The Campus Debit Card Trap: Are Bank Partnerships Fair to Students.”

“Banks and other financial firms are taking advantage of a variety of opportunities to form partnerships with colleges and universities to produce campus student ID cards and to offer student aid disbursements on debit or prepaid cards,” reads the first lines of the report’s “Summary and Key Findings.”

Another line in the 40-page report states: “PIRG has identified almost 900 card partnerships between colleges and banks or other financial firms at schools with over 9 million students.” That means about 42% of all students nationwide have the opportunity to participate in such a program.

The report goes on to state that “Industry leading banks and financial firms tout that upwards of 70%-80% of students use their cards after a few years of marketing. U.S. PIRG has identified that 32 of the 50 largest public four-year universities, 26 of the largest 50 community colleges, and six of the largest 20 private not-for-profit schools had debit or prepaid card contracts with a bank or a financial firm.”

The complete report in a pdf format can be viewed here[end] 

A recent US Senate Banking Committee hearing addressed issues that could determine the future of campus card bank partnerships. Though many expected ID cards and aid delivery to be a minor topic in comparison to other Title IV financial aid related issues, it dominated much of the discussion during the hearing titled “Financial Products for Students: Issues and Challenges.”

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At Quinnipiac University, students use their campus card and QCash to pay for groceries, laundry and takeout orders, but a slow transaction process and higher fees have some local merchants turning their backs on the student ID card.

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Waukesha County Technical College has started its search for a new banking partner to fill its on-campus location.

A 2009 poll conducted at the Waukesha County Technical College found that 69% of students would use an on-campus bank. Now, the school is seeking proposals for a full-service branch on its Pewaukee campus.

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Regulatory action is being proposed in the campus-banking sector, with the U.S. Department of Education releasing its first draft of regulations on campus debit cards that will effectively prohibit certain fees, constrain marketing practices and institute transparency regarding the college-card provider relationship.

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