In December 2016, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau produced a study that was useful for the university administrators looking after millions of college students in the United States.
In an annual report to Congress, the agency published an analysis of agreements between credit and debit card issuers and institutes of higher learning—one that included warnings about boilerplate deals enabling banks to ply fees out of students.
“Many general marketing agreements contain features or lack protections that may make them inconsistent with the ‘best financial interests’ of students,” the report warned in boldface text. The agency noted these deals “do not expressly prohibit certain fees,” and stressed that “colleges may negotiate…to include additional key consumer protections.”
Since the Trump administration took power, however—under the leadership of interim CFPB Director Mick Mulvaney—the tenor of the report changed drastically. Last year’s version, published in January 2018, reads more like it was written the night before. The paper has updated quantitative data, little qualitative analysis and no discussion of overdraft charges.
A university that takes a hands-off approach to debit and credit card deals could see its student body incur “hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees per year,” according to the 2016 version of the report.