College freshmen across Iowa are a few weeks into their new more-independent lives now and many are being tempted to sign up for their first credit cards. The average annual debt for college students ranges between 500 and three-thousand dollars. Freshmen at the University of Iowa, and their parents, get a crash course on credit cards from people like Cathy Wilcox, of the U-of-I’s Student Credit and Money Management Service. Wilcox says “One of the things that we’re trying to educate students on is not to live beyond your means,” although she admits it’s not easy explaining what is beyond an 18-year-old’s means. A student who runs up a 25-hundred dollar credit card bill with 15-percent interest who pays the minimum of 50-dollars a month would take 16 years to pay it off. The total interest would exceed the original debt. U-of-I freshman Chrissy Squire, of Davenport, says she’s managed to resist the many credit card offers that’ve bombarded her in recent weeks. Squire says “Everywhere I go, everyone’s always asking, ‘Would you like to apply for a credit card and get 10 percent off?’ Though it’s tempting, I try not to. Don’t want to get in bad credit.” Some parents pay their college kids’ credit card bills. Krista Lewis, a U-of-I junior from Woodridge, Illinois, is in that boat, for now. Lewis says “Just slowly kinda’ wean me off of them paying for the credit card. It’s a ‘I’m in college’ thing.” Focus on studies, focus on getting through college.” Wilcox, at the Student Credit and Money Management Service, says she often sees juniors and seniors run into debt problems after their parents stop paying.
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