Universities sell student information to credit card companies?

According to CNN Business News this morning, students aren’t going to get any financial help or guidance from their college or university because they are selling student information to credit card companies.

Is this true? I would have thought with the smorgasborg of privacy acts out there that this would be blatantly illegal.

Got a cite for this claim? It’s certainly true that credit card companies pay colleges to distribute information about them to students (e.g., that’s why the clerk at the campus shop stuffs in a bunch of credit-card ads when bagging your purchases). As for colleges selling info about the students to the companies, though, I think they only sell the student mailing lists (that is, names and addresses). AFAIK, there’s no privacy regulation that prevents somebody who knows your mailing address from selling that information to somebody else.

And as for the suggestion that colleges are deliberately withholding financial aid or guidance from students on account of this, presumably because the credit-card companies prefer to have the students remain cash-strapped and ignorant of prudent money management…well, as I said, I’d like to see a cite.

Mind you, I hold absolutely no brief for the corporate “credit-crack” merchants who deliberately try to entice very young and inexperienced people into getting high-limit, high-rate credit cards. As far as I can tell, it’s simply a form of predatory lending: they do it not because they’re hoping to make a reasonable profit on students’ reasonable credit-card use, but because they’re hoping to rake in megabucks from thousands of dollars’ worth of foolish spending by financial novices who will be locked into career-crippling debt payments for years to come. However, if we’re going to suggest that colleges are intentionally trying to keep students financially poor and stupid in order to better foster this predation, we need to see some evidence.

A cite? I saw it on CNN Business News this morning. Check Google Video in a couple days…

A good way to target college students is via a mailing list generated by a credit reporting agency. The credit reporting agency scans the d-base for students. “How?” You ask…

Well, students will have deferred student loans on their credit reports. Also, the date of birth can be scanned. Other things can be included in the scanning logic to target market students and young Americans very easily.

During my first college career, I had credit issuers and other financial service providers solicit me that had gotten my information from the university. In one case, 1% of my charges would have been kicking back to the university, and the mailed solicitation had a return address on the envelope IN THE ADMIN BUILGING of my university. This was a credit card offer.
During my second college career, I started receiving offers for credit cards. When I read the application, they asked for the date I was going to be graduating.
I never got applications for college credit cards between college career one and college career two.
My wife went to a “Christian” college. Apparently they sold her name, because she now gets about 3-4 offers a year for credit cards that have religious imagery on them or donate to various religious causes.

I’m sure that works, Philster. You’re the expert.
I’ll note that I’ve NEVER taken out a student loan, though, in the interest of people interpreting my above post in this thread.

I meant to say “Admin Building”.
Specifically, the Hoey Administration Building at 1801 Fayetteville St, Durham, North Carolina.
If the administration at my first college was builging, bilging or bulging, it would be because someone overate in the faculty and staff dining lounge.

alterego: A cite? I saw it on CNN Business News this morning.

Okay then, can you give us a little more info about what they meant by “students aren’t going to get any financial help or guidance from their college or university because they are selling student information to credit card companies”, as your OP stated?

I mean, if your question is just “Are colleges selling student information to credit card companies, and doesn’t this violate privacy laws?”, then AFAIK the answer would be: Yes, colleges sell their student mailing lists to credit card companies, and no, it’s not illegal to sell mailing lists. There you go.

But if your question is actually “Are colleges denying financial help and guidance to their students in order to make them softer targets for exploitation by predatory credit card companies?”, then before we don our radiation suits to explore the issue, it would help to get a little more detail and/or evidence about the allegations, if possible.

I can attest to the fact that my school sold my information to a credit card company. I and my roommate both got calls on our dorm phone which I don’t even know the number of from a CC company trying to sell us a college credit card.

I’m fairly certain that the university I attended for graduate school did - shortly after I started, I began receiving mail to:

Realfirstname Reallastname
University of Tennessee
Real Address
Googling for: university “student names” list “credit cards” gives me this as the first link (and it’s from the grad school I attended…how about that…)

There are stories about other schools as well - a company name I keep seeing is American Student List. Information about their college student lists available include:

and suggested uses are:

Look, there’s no point discussing any further whether colleges sell the names and addresses of students to credit card companies. It’s well known that they do, and it’s clear that it’s not illegal. The question is what alterego means in the OP when he/she says:

> According to CNN Business News this morning, students aren’t going to get any
> financial help or guidance from their college or university because they are
> selling student information to credit card companies.

I can’t figure out what this sentence means, but if it means that colleges are denying financial aid just so that student will be forced to put loans on credit cards, that’s pretty outrageous. alterego, could you please carefully explain just what you mean by this sentence? Could please you tell us exactly what the CNN report said?

Financial aid, at least in terms of tuition assistance in the form of loans, grants, and scholarships, is pretty much determined by formulas set by state and federal law.

I think the OP means “teaching basic money-management skills”. I agree that universities (or, at least mine) would be doing students a great service by requiring students to take a course in personal finance, but there are other, better reasons for not doing it, such as finding the money to hire qualified faculty, scheduling so many students, not to mention the fact that, just because a student takes a course, doesn’t mean he will apply what he’s learned to his own life.


What I posted was near-verbatim…I am simply surprised they can do it in the first place. I haven’t gotten offers myself, although I am getting several free newspapers all of the sudden to an otherwise undisclosed address.

alterego writes:

> What I posted was near-verbatim . . .

Well, then, the news report must also be incoherent, because I still have no idea what this sentence means:

> According to CNN Business News this morning, students aren’t going to get any
> financial help or guidance from their college or university because they are
> selling student information to credit card companies.

Does this sentence actually mean anything to you, alterego? Please, there’s no point in other people trying to explain what it means. Several of us have tried to explain it, and everybody’s explanation is different. I need to know what alterego means by this sentence.

I don’t mean to be snarky, but my question has been answered so it is not clear what you don’t understand. CNN Business News made the assumption and statement that because universities are selling student information, students shouldn’t expect genuine financial help or guidance from them. Not only does it make sense, it is apparantly true. Thanks.

O.K., if I understand you correctly, what the CNN Business News report said was that colleges are selling the names and addresses of students to credit card companies. This is well known, so there’s no dispute about that. The report further made the claim that because the colleges are doing that, that students should not expect the colleges to get any guidance about finances. In other words, CNN claims that the colleges will not tell the students that they are going to have to be careful not to run up big credit card bills. Notice that this is apparently not something that they discovered by asking a lot of college officials, “Are you giving any financial guidance to your students about credit cards, or do you not care about the fact that they could run up big debts?” They apparently merely concluded from the fact that colleges allow credit card companies to send applications to their students and the fact that there doesn’t seem to be any courses (or even any guidance at all) in handling credit card debts that colleges don’t seem to care about the effects of the mailings that the students get.

Note that this doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the availability of financial aid for students.

The story mentioned in the OP is on the CNN website. If you go to the website where CNN Money makes videos available, look for the story from June 17 featuring Gerri Willis. It’s a story tied to Father’s Day detailing five things that fathers can teach their children about handling money. I went to the trouble of transcribing the relevant portion, except I didn’t get the name of the anchorwoman.

Please note that “They’re really in on this too” is a conclusion by CNN, and not a simple report of what colleges believe. Colleges may be neglectful of their duty in not giving students financial guidance, but it’s not the case that they have deliberately decided to allow students to get into debt. In other worlds, they may be stupid and ignorant, but they’re not deliberately malicious in what they’re doing.

I agree that the “They’re really in on this too” comment was a stretch by the correspondent. I don’t believe that there is an agreement between the credit card companies and the colleges that the latter won’t provide financial advice to students so the companies can make more money.