RIP-OFF ALERT: Some colleges are in cahoots with banks to dupe students into thinking they have to get their financial aid on high-fee debit cards.

Universities used to view their relationship with students as being in loco  parentis, which is Latin for in place of the parent. They knew then were dealing with young and impressionable late adolescents and had to properly steward them.  Today, however, it seems like colleges see their students as someone to exploit.

The banks are going to colleges and having them adopt their debit card as the official or semi-official card of the campus. For that privilege, the colleges received kickbacks under the table and actively tricked students into thinking they had to get their financial aid loaded into these accounts that eviscerated students with fees.

If you are a student or a parent, do not ever allow a college to tell you they have a specific or preferred card. They do not.

You can sidestep the whole question by setting up a fee-free account at a credit union, small local community bank, or online bank before you or your kid gets to campus.

Be wary any time you’re asked to load money onto a stored value or debit card. It is easier to set up some form of direct deposit for money that will fund your or your child's studies.

Shame on the schools!

Image of Clark Howard About the author: Clark Howard

Clark Howard is a consumer expert whose goal is to help you keep more of the money you make. His national radio show and website show you ways to put more money in your pocket, with advice you can trust. View More Articles

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