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College Credit Now Translates Into Debt

June 19, 2004|Allene E. Linden

Every parent of a high school senior knows what other such parents have been experiencing since the beginning of the year. Regardless of whether your child is a genius, hardworking or a whiz at taking tests, each of us has been humbled by the wait for the magic envelopes from colleges and universities with news of acceptance or rejection. Little did I know what was to come after that step.

My daughter was one of the lucky ones at her school. Out of the 11 applications that she made, she was accepted at nine institutions and put on the "wait list" by one school. Many of her classmates were stuck with making a decision from among their third-, fourth- and fifth-choice schools.

Now that the check is in the mail for the tuition deadline, I thought we would be able to settle down and relax before the end of the end-of-the-year activities. I was wrong.

Our mailbox has been filled with credit card applications. All of these envelopes have my daughter's name inscribed, quite boldly, offering her the opportunity to step into the adult world of credit.

I receive telephone calls from people who have difficulty pronouncing the name Jessica, much less our last name, congratulating my daughter on successfully completing high school and her new horizons in college. Each one brushes me aside, intent on talking to my daughter -- a daughter with no visible means of support other than her father and me. Yet they offer her unlimited credit opportunities to add to the $43,000 of annual tuition at her chosen institution of higher learning. Call me old-fashioned, but exactly when did it become de rigueur for entering, unemployed college students to get credit -- credit that will incur debt that their parents will obviously have to pay for?

Despite the fact that I have "good credit," I have been told that I have "too much" credit. And yet credit card companies that have outsourced jobs to foreign lands call my home with offers of credit that my daughter can ill afford. My biggest concern is, after her education is paid for, will there be a job for her in this country to pay off what results from all those wondrous offers of credit?

And to think I thought that we had survived the worst of senioritis and college admissions.

Allene E. Linden lives in Arcadia.

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