Is your college student credit-card ready?

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Right now thousands of eager students are heading off to their first year of college and experiencing the many rituals: scheduling classes, adjusting to dorm life, and ... oh yes, getting their first credit card.

According to Consolidated Credit Counseling Services Inc. (CCCS), 80 percent of colleges and universities permit some form of on-campus credit-card solicitation, and nearly 80 percent of full-time undergraduate students have credit cards.

The downside to this solicitation is that their average outstanding balance is $2,226, according to CCCS. Nellie Mae, a nonprofit student-loan provider, reports that 10 percent of college students have rung up outstanding balances over $7,000.

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The Institute of Certified Financial Planners offers some advice for parents:

*Have a spending plan. Keeping a budget for the school year can help your student think more carefully before spending.

*Select a card based on its full rate, not a teaser rate. Some recent cards for college students offered rates at about 8 percent, but jumped to 16 to 17 percent within a few months.

*Don't co-sign their card. They can run up charges beyond your control, yet you'll be legally resonsible. In sum, you can harm your own credit rating.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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