NEFE Director Speaks Before U.S. House Subcommittee

Neiser's Testimony on Problem Credit Card Practices

Date: June 27, 2008

Contact: Paul Golden 303-224-3514, [email protected]

GREENWOOD VILLAGE, COLORADO—Unfair and misleading practices by credit card companies are having a negative impact on the financial future of college students. That was the point of discussion before the Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit of the United States House of Representatives on June 26, 2008. Brent Neiser, director of Strategic Programs and Alliances for the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE), testified at the hearing, which provided an opportunity to explore ways to help college students who are adversely affected by credit cards and consumer debt, and to prevent future problems in this area.

"Many college students today are facing an oncoming personal finance crisis in which the opportunity for positive engagement in the United States financial mainstream is being threatened by a culture of ignorance, peer pressure and intense marketing tactics,” said Neiser in his comments before the subcommittee. “The additional burden of consumer debt is layered upon student loans and other costs that are significant to this population: expenses related to transportation, housing and job preparation.”

According to the U.S. Department of Education and Demos, a nonpartisan public policy research and advocacy organization, two-thirds of all undergraduates borrow money to pay for college. The average undergraduate leaves campus with just over $19,000 in student loans1. One in four grads will carry more than $25,0002. In addition, many students will accrue additional debt on credit cards. Because of this debt, it’s estimated that between 1.4 million and 2.4 million bachelor’s degrees will be lost as financial concerns prevent students from the lowest income bracket from attending college4.

In response to these bleak statistics, NEFE launched CashCourse® (, an online Web resource, to meet the demand for delivering just-in-time financial information and resources to college students. CashCourse is an easily-implemented, unbiased and noncommercial financial education solution for colleges, universities and alumni associations to offer their students, many of whom are living away from the guidance of their parents. As of release date, 140 colleges and universities across the U.S. are using the program.

In his comments, Neiser suggested five key areas as the foundational elements needed for building a balanced approach to responsible credit management. These areas are: Financial Education, Disclosure, Defaults, Public Awareness, and Culture of Commitment.

“Attention and action in these five areas are needed from all sectors of society in order to empower Americans to embrace a culture that is moving towards thrift and ownership of their financial future,” said Neiser.

Speaking at the hearing with Neiser were Benjamin Lawsky, deputy counselor and special assistant to Attorney General (New York); Christine Lindstrom, director of Higher Education Debt Project, USPIRG; Brett Thurman, president of Undergraduate Student Government at the University of Illinois—Chicago; Kenneth Clayton, managing director and general counsel of the ABA Card Policy Council, American Bankers Association; and Erica Williams, policy and advocacy manager of Campus Progress Action.

Read Neiser’s testimony: “Problem Credit Card Practices Affecting Students: The Need for Legislative Action.”

Related: NEFE President and CEO Ted Beck testifies before U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on “Improving Financial Literacy: Working Together to Develop Private Sector Coordination and Solutions,” September 28, 2006.

1Demos, (2006).

2Demos, (2006).

4Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance with data provided by the U.S. Department of Education.



  • Paul Golden

    Media Relations Director

    Direct: 303-224-3514
    Cell: 303-918-3620
    [email protected]