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New GAO Report – College Debit Cards

COLLEGE DEBIT CARDS: Actions Needed to Address ATM Access, Student Choice, and Transparency, GAO-14-91: Published: Feb 13, 2014. Publicly Released: Feb 13, 2014: “At least 852 schools, or 11 percent of U.S. colleges and universities, had agreements to provide debit or prepaid card services to their students as of July 2013, and most offered students the ability to receive federal student aid and other payments on a card. These schools were disproportionately large; their enrollments constituted about 40 percent of all postsecondary students. However, the percentage of students enrolled in their schools’ college card programs was unknown. In the majority of agreements, the schools also outsourced to their card provider the process for paying financial aid and other funds via college cards and other methods. Some schools also used college cards as student identification. The dominant provider was Higher One, a nonbank financial firm that had a 57 percent market share in 2013, as measured by number of card agreements.”

  • See also - CFPB Calls on Financial Institutions to Publicly Disclose Campus Financial Agreements, Bureau Finds a Continued Decline in College Credit Card Agreements [December 17, 2013] ..the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) called on financial institutions to publicly disclose agreements with colleges and universities to market debit, prepaid, and other products to students. Currently, institutions only make these disclosures about college credit cards. The CFPB also released its annual report on college credit card agreements, which showed a decline of 23 percent in college agreements from 2011 to 2012. “Students and their families should know if their school, whether well-intentioned or not, is being compensated to encourage students to use a specific account or card product,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “When financial institutions secretly give kickbacks to schools, they are engaging in risky practices.”

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