Opening the first credit card statement of the new year can be
just as bleak and cloudy as the winter weather outside.
With the holidays behind them some students are wondering how
they can recover from the stress of credit card debt and empty bank
Judy McKenna, a family economics specialist for CSU Cooperative
Extension, encouraged people in a recent press release to seek
professional help in paying off debts.
“I spent way more on my Visa card during break than I do during
any other time of the school year,” said Amber Mesker, a junior
journalism and technical communication major. Mesker feels
overwhelmed with the thought of managing that new debt.
College students getting into credit card debt without an income
is a concern.
Some students are feeling the rising pressure of these debts and
are looking for an answer.
For Keith Spilman, a junior business major who purchased several
pricey gifts this season with his MasterCard, the solutions of
television debt-consolidation advertisements do not look
“I might think about looking around for help but all of those
toll-free numbers on TV look like a rip-off,” Spilman said.
Though McKenna promotes seeking assistance to help manage and
control debt, she wrote that some companies charge high fees and do
not always perform as promised.
Look for a non-profit organization that is reputable, said
Jacque Miller, a family resource management specialist for
Cooperative Extension. She recommends contacting the Better
Business Bureau with questions about an organization.
Marci Ott of Consumer Credit Counseling of Northern Colorado,
said it can help students manage debt responsibly, and in some
cases reduce debt. She said the organization, located on 1247
Riverside Ave., often visits colleges and universities to give
lectures and seminars on credit management.
“It is a high-priority mission,” Ott said. Clients are charged
for services according to a scale. That scale includes free
services for clients without an income.
Both McKenna and Ott said people should seek help if they are no
longer able to pay the minimum payment on the bill.
“Soon finance charges don’t even touch the principle on the
balance,” Ott said.
Ott said the Fort Collins office can help students even though
they do not have a full-time income, which is an issue students
like Spilman worry about.
Students should exercise caution when seeking any debt
counseling service. Ott said that once some creditors are contacted
they may send notices to one or all of the credit bureaus informing
them that a person has sought debt management services.
For some students this can be a concern, but for others Ott
said, “You are already in trouble with your credit report.”
Debt counseling services often provide clients with
opportunities to make lump payments and potentially lower those
Students must be careful of newer or less reputable companies
who are in business for profit, McKenna said. These companies often
operate on the pretense that a person can erase their debt with a
Paying his credit cards off would put him at ease, Spilman
“It’s just a matter of finding a legitimate plan.”