NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

College Students Could Use A Course In Personal Finances

May 29, 2001

To judge by their tendency to accumulate debt, many college students could use a course such as "Credit Cards and Financial Responsibility 101." Tens of thousands of students are overwhelmed by ballooning credit-card debt -- and an alarming number are now filing for personal bankruptcy.

  • Bankruptcy filings by those 25 and younger rose 51 percent during the 1990s, according to Harvard University's Elizabeth Warren.
  • The number leapt from 60,180 in 1991 to 118,000 by 1999.
  • Persons 25 years and younger now account for 7 percent of the nation's bankruptcy filings.
  • Some 95 percent of college students and 32 percent of high schoolers held credit cards in 2000.

In 2000, the typical student's credit card balance stood at $2,748 -- a 46 percent increase just since 1998.

Ten percent of students with credit cards owe more than $7,000 and 25 percent owe more than $3,000.

Source: Charles Hadda, Ushma Patel and Nichole St. Pierre, "Congratulations Grads -- You're Bankrupt," Business Week, May 21, 2001.


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