For Immediate Release - September 19, 2013

Project Credit Smarts Continues to Focus on Proper Management of Credit and Debt for Students

BOSTON – Today, the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation (OCABR) kicked off its fifth year of Project Credit Smarts, a program to help college students gain knowledge about student loans and finances. The financial literacy program continues to be a valuable tool at a time when college students across the nation continue to amass student loans at an alarming rate, with little understanding of the financial obligation they are making for after graduation.

Today’s kickoff included an event at the University of Massachusetts-Boston where OCABR staff were joined by students, University officials and representatives from partner organizations including the Division of Banks, the Massachusetts Credit Union League, the Massachusetts Bankers’ Association, the Midas Collaborative and the Massachusetts Community and Banking Council.

“The cost of attending college has skyrocketed, and based on reports from College Board, tuition prices are set to double in the next ten years,” said OCABR Undersecretary Barbara Anthony. “College is the first major financial investment a young person makes, and many students enter their first year with no formal financial education. Over the past five years my office has worked to fill that gap by talking to students practically about their financial choices and the lasting impact those decisions have on their future.”

Project Credit Smarts is a financial education program that teaches college students about the responsible management of credit and debt. The program includes information about credit cards, student loans, credit reports and identity theft. Since it started in 2008, the program has been taught to over 2,600 students at 20 colleges and universities around the Commonwealth.

Fall 2013 seminars have already begun, with presentations at Westfield State University and Endicott College and more dates to be scheduled throughout the academic year.

Last month, President Barack Obama signed into law a bill that ties the interest rates of student loans to the market, not to government-set rates. The law also provides caps for interest rates to keep them from exceeding a set threshold, including an 8.25 percent interest rate cap for undergraduates, helping to ensure students owe less per payment period. OCABR advises students to read more about the information the U.S. Department of Education provides regarding rates and plans at its website.

Project Credit Smarts helps students understand the differences between credit cards, charge cards and debit cards; highlights the need to be knowledgeable about fees and costs associated with cards; addresses students’ concerns about loans and other school costs; encourages students to monitor their credit reports and remain vigilant in protecting against identity theft; and identifies the impact that poor financial decisions can have later on as students graduate and look to obtain credit to buy a car or a house. Consumers can learn more about Project Credit Smarts by visiting OCABR’s website .

To provide additional assistance to students in the Commonwealth, OCABR released a survey earlier this month that examines the costs of college textbooks. The results of the survey show that there are ways for parents and students to save hundreds of dollars when they go to buy this semester’s textbooks, a valuable resource as the U.S. Government Accountability Office recently reported that textbook prices have risen 82 percent over the last 10 years.

OCABR remains committed to protecting consumers through consumer advocacy and education, and also works to ensure that the businesses its agencies regulate treat all Massachusetts consumers fairly. Follow the Office at its blog, on Facebook and on Twitter @Mass_Consumer

 

STATEMENTS OF SUPPORT

“We are very excited to host the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation here on campus as they kick off a new Project Credit Smarts season. It’s important for students to learn as much as they can about credit card and financial management. The financial choices they make today can affect their lives for years to come.”

J. Keith Motley, Chancellor, University of Massachusetts Boston

“The Massachusetts Credit Union League is pleased to support the ‘Project Credit Smarts’ program.  By helping young people understand the importance of managing their financial lives and giving them the knowledge that they need to do so, the Project Credit Smarts enhances the lives of not only these young people but future generations and by extension everyone who lives in the Commonwealth.  These goals are completely consistent with the principles that drive our credit union community.”

Daniel F. Egan, Jr., President, Massachusetts Credit Union League, Inc.

“With nearly half of Massachusetts residents dealing with subprime credit scores, this program is so important for students as they launch or bolster careers.”

Margaret Miley, Executive Director, The Midas Collaborative

“FDIC is a supporter of financial education and as result has created the Money Smart curriculum and created an enhanced version for young adults.  We continue to be supportive of programs such as ‘Project Credit Smarts’ that help steer students away from unproductive credit problems and helps to establish could personal financial habits that will provide benefits throughout their lives.”

Timothy DeLessio, Community Affairs Officer, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation

“Higher education can help increase the skills that lead to a career with higher pay and better benefits, but figuring out payment options for college can be overwhelming at times.  Project Credit Smarts helps students understand the true costs of all their financial decisions and provides much-needed education about money management.”

Ruthie Liberman, Vice President for Public Policy, Crittenton Women’s Union

 

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