Banks Fight Claims They Have “Secretive” Contracts with College Campuses


We support reforms to the financial marketplace that protect consumers from unscrupulous banks and lenders.

By Consumers Union on Thursday, August 21st, 2014

Are you or someone you know preparing to go to college?  If so, you many find banks and other financial firms offering you student accounts for getting your financial aid or managing your money.   That’s because more and more colleges are entering into agreements with these firms to sell products to students on campus.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) asked financial firms last year to publicize their campus banking contracts with schools, just like they already have to do with college credit card contracts.  The idea is to make the agreements transparent, so students have the information they need to make good choices.  The CFPB has recently found that some schools and their partner banks are better than others at making this information available.

But now the bank lobby is pushing back, saying that their contracts aren’t secretive.  One bank rep for Wells Fargo said that most of the schools they contract with “are public institutions that will provide the terms of their agreements upon request.”

But…why put the burden on a student to do that?   The banks don’t seem to have a better argument than “just trust us.”

So it all raises the question: why not just post the contracts?  If they have to do it for credit card agreements, why not for “campus banking products” like debit and prepaid cards?

We’ve written before about how campus-sponsored accounts may not be the best deal for students – and many of you have written back, telling us you agree.  It’s important for students to know their options so they can make informed choices and find accounts that meet their needs.

Have you or someone you know been offered a campus bank account or prepaid card?  If so, tell us your story in the comments.

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