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Students split on Obama’s bill limiting credit card access

To be an adult or not to be an adult: That is the question students are asking themselves in the face of President Obama’s credit card reform act passed in May.

The bill, which imposes tougher restrictions on those under 21 who wish to obtain a credit card, aims at relieving the current recession by curbing reckless spending among college students.

But some students see this as another restriction on their freedom.

‘I don’t know if it’s fair if you say we’re adults at 18, but then prevent us from doing as we like, like getting a credit card,’ freshman Allaire Gaudette said.

Though the bill does not make it impossible for those under 21 to obtain a credit card, they do have to prove that they can repay expenses or have a parent settle the debt in event of a default.

That’s no surprise to junior Scott Nakoski, who said the privileges of those under 21 years old have always been questionable.

‘At 18, we can vote, but then again, we’re not allowed to drink alcohol, and we’re restricted in other things as well, such as car rental and in some states, hotel rental,’ he said. ‘Now it’s credit cards.’

And restricting spending when spending is needed to jumpstart the economy negates the effectiveness of the measure, Nakoski said.

But Cathy Bowen, Penn State associate professor of agricultural and extension education, and a consumer education expert, said the bill is common sense: Only spend the money that you have.

‘It doesn’t matter if you’re 25 or 21, it still comes down to the consumers themselves,’ she said. ‘If you don’t have money, you shouldn’t be spending it.’

Not all students are opposed to the new measure. Catharine Wahl, junior in education, who obtained a credit card in order to build a credit history, believes the bill could be a good thing.

‘I’ve been working since 14, so I know the value of money,’ she said. ‘But a lot of kids in college tend to spend irresponsibly with the credit card. The bill will stop that from happenwing.’

Dennis Fetzer, vice president of the PNC Bank on East College Avenue, said the bill is keeping in line with the credit policy PNC Bank has consistently practiced with students. For students to have a credit card at his branch, they must have been a customer for at least six months and have a certain account balance.

Nonetheless, credit cards are not on the horizon for Gaudette, who just turned 18.

‘I don’t trust myself having one; it’s so easy to swipe it and be in debt,’ she said. ‘I prefer to use a debit card. The money’s already there.’

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