Proposal aims to keep students out of debt - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Proposal aims to keep students out of debt

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - House Speaker Pro Tempore Lois DeBerry says she's not giving up on legislation that would restrict credit card solicitations to students on college campuses.

The proposal failed 3-3 along party lines in the Republican-controlled Senate Education Committee on Wednesday.

Before the vote, DeBerry, a Memphis Democrat and the bill's House sponsor, spoke passionately to the committee about students graduating with debt because of the credit cards.

"It's wrong for us to be foreclosing on the lives of our children," she said. "You talk to big companies and they now say they associate your debt with your character, so now they're hindered from getting a good job because of the debt that they leave school with."

The House version of the legislation is waiting to be scheduled for a floor vote, and DeBerry believes she has the votes to pass it. If it goes through overwhelmingly, she said she will then ask parents and students to help lobby the bill and still try to pass it this year.

"I'm definitely not going to give up," DeBerry said. "I'm not going to give up on these kids."       The proposal would require institutions of higher learning that provide directories of their students to allow them to indicate that they don't want to be solicited.

Opponents of the bill say students aren't targeted. But if a card is obtained, they say credit limits are in place to help students avoid debt.

"We think we run a responsible program," said Hank Dye, spokesman for the University of Tennessee, one of the bill's main opponents. "We start out with a modest credit limit ... of about $300. There are safeguards in place."

Dye said about 21,000 people have the so-called "affinity" cards, of which 2,100 are UT students. He said only 1.2 percent of those students defaulted on the card last year.

Regardless of the percentage, DeBerry said it's "morally wrong" to allow students to have a credit card when many of them don't even have jobs.

"You can't get a credit card without a job, so why are you going to offer a student coming out of high school the credit card without a job?" she said. "It's just wrong."


(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

Powered by Frankly