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College students taking on more credit card debt

There are many reasons a person may need to consider whether to file for bankruptcy, including having significant credit card debt. Many people in the Chicago area are burdened by high credit card bills, leading them to seek debt relief. A recent study of the credit card habits of college students may reveal some of the contours of the problem.

Researchers conducted a survey of over 700 students at five different universities and asked students a number of questions, including how many cards they had, how frequently they used them and what their average credit card debt was.

According to the survey responses, credit card balances are getting worse. In 2009, college students carried an average of over $4,000 in credit card debt. Only five years earlier, however, it was less than one-quarter that amount. In addition, fewer students are paying their monthly balances in full. In 2003, nearly one-third of students paid their credit card bills completely, but that figure has dropped to less than 10 percent in recent years.

To make matters worse, the overwhelming majority of students did not know what fees were assessed for late payments or what interest rates were applied to their balances.

Although the survey focused on college students, researchers stated that its results extend well beyond campuses. They posited that students' financial challenges could represent one segment of the larger debt issues among the general public. Some people have had to turn to credit cards to pay bills and other necessary expenses in this tough economy. Bankruptcy can be an option for some with high debt loads, but people should evaluate thoroughly the pros and cons of filing with an experienced bankruptcy attorney.

Source:, "Survey: Students Fail the Credit Card Test," Martin Merzer, April 16, 2012.

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