College Connect: Expert Explains the Reality of Credit Cards

By Reann Huber

Diann Moorman is an associate professor at the University of Georgia’s College of Family and Consumer Sciences, and specializes in research on bankruptcy, single parent households, credit card debt and more. I reached out to Moorman to learn more about credit cards and the debt that often comes along with them and how they affect college students.

Q: How beneficial would you say is it for college students to use credit cards, whether it is one or multiple?

A: College students should obtain and properly use one/possibly two credit cards.  Both Visa and MasterCard cards do the same thing which is to help the student build a good credit score. A high credit score is needed in the future to buy an automobile or to get a mortgage to buy a house. Multiple credit cards are NOT advised; reason being: credit limits on credit cards are potential DEBT!! Meaning money that has to be paid back and too much debt means a student won’t qualify for that car loan or mortgage.

Q: Is credit card debt common among college students?

A: Credit card debt is way too common for college students. It is one of the top reasons why students drop out of college. They just can’t make their credit card payment and pay for school expenses. The annual average credit card balance of all student cardholders in 2015 was $906; younger students (age 18-20) carried a significantly lower average balance ($611) than students aged 21-22 ($1,013) or 23-24 ($1,109).

Q: How do most college students end up with credit card debt?

A: Many students don’t qualify for financial aid or scholarships and resort to credit cards to pay for college expenses; or they use credit cards for college recreation such as spring break or trips over the holidays. We often see textbook expenses show up on credit card statements as well. It is just the issue of not realizing that the debt HAS to be repaid. Putting it on the plastic card postpones the payment from coming out of their checking account immediately but the debt has to be paid off or one’s credit is damaged.

Reann Huber is a journalism major at the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.

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