Homework and social life aren’t the only challenges facing young Iowans starting their fall term at the state’s colleges and universities. U-N-I’s Lois Lindell is assistant director of the Center for Economic Education. On college campuses all across the U.S., she says students are “bombarded” with enticing offers to sign up for credit cards. Lindell says personal bankruptcies are at an all-time high this year. Many young people fail to take into consideration the consequences of using credit cards to life in a way that’s actually beyond what they can afford. The students may be college material, but Lindell says often they’re still not quite smart enough to master the details of credit-card policies and billing, and living within a budget. She says a lot of studies show young adults don’t have a good concept of what credit cards are, and what they’re signing up for — and like many adults have trouble reading through the fine print that comes with a credit-card application. Lindell says it’s human nature not to think about consequences, but piling up credit can set a young adult on a path to financial trouble. She gives examples of what a young card-holder should — or should not — pay for with plastic.Going out to eat with friends should be a cash expense — don’t charge meals because that can get out of hand quickly. Lindell says on the other hand, a credit card can be a lifesaver in emergencies, like changes to travel plans when a student heads home for holidays or other breaks. You never know when a car will beak down or bad weather will make travel difficult or impossible, so the credit card can help deal with emergencies. U-N-I’s Center for Economic Education works with public schools and teachers to incorporate lessons about finance and economics into daily classroom curriculum.
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