Using credit cards to pay tuition can be risky

Kristina Deckert

Paying with credit may be convenient, but debt can pile up

More and more students are using credit cards to pay for tuition, which can be a risky practice, especially with the current economic crisis.

Between September 2007 and September 2008, Kent State’s Bursar’s office recorded about 55,000 credit card payments for tuition and smaller things, like parking tickets.

“It’s risky, depending on your ability to pay (your debt) back,” said Les Carter, Kent State bursar. “If you’re piling up a large amount of debt, it’ll catch up to you. Obviously, if you have that large of a credit limit, it’s possible it could catch up with you pretty quickly.”

Carter said the number of students paying tuition with credit cards increases every year.

Senior business major Nick Sirk said he paid for his summer classes on his credit card and is still paying off the money three months later.

“It’s a convenient, easy way to pay for classes,” he said. “Plus, it was really the only way I could pay for it all right away.”

Carter said he thinks that paying for tuition with credit cards is in line with the current state of the world.

“Because people don’t have readily available cash at hand, they use credit cards to make those payments,” he said. “That’s really the way of the world, as well.”

Carter said he thinks some of the reason that students use credit cards to pay for tuition may be because they get points or air miles. Sirk agrees.

“It’s actually kind of nice, because even though I’m still paying the money back, I got a lot of points on my credit card from paying tuition with it,” he said.

Even though Sirk isn’t having problems paying off his credit card for tuition, he still feels weary about using it to pay for such a high amount of money.

“It’s like I’m paying for something that’s not mine,” he said. “You’re basically buying something without paying for it.”

He said he never wants to pay for tuition with a credit card again.

“I’m not going to do that again, in part because it’s a lot of money and high interest rates,” he said. “I had to call my credit card company to get my interest rate lowered since I was paying so much.”

Carter said Kent State is working on moving away from using credit cards to pay for tuition and other things.

“The major reason why we’re moving away from credit cards is because it costs the university more than $1 million to act with the credit card institutions,” he said. “We can use that money for other purposes. These are costs we feel we can cut very readily.”

Carter said students have a lot of other options besides credit cards when finding a way to pay for tuition.

“Some students mail in checks; you can use electronic checks and sometimes, credit card companies have checks you can use to pay,” he said. “And, of course, debit cards and cash are always other options.”

Contact student finance reporter Kristina Deckert at [email protected].