Home / Credit News / More parents changing approach on credit cards for college students

In the last month and a half before the fall semester starts, many young adults and their parents are making the final preparations for their college plans, and that includes taking a hard look at the financial options available to them.

Many parents are now more closely examining the various ways they can give their kids some financial flexibility when they go off to college, which may lead them to examine a number of credit and debit card options, according to a report from the Associated Press. However, many things have changed in the last few years that may affect the decisions they end up making when it comes to their kids' financial futures.

The most obvious change parents might run across in their attempts to get their kids prepared for college is that it's typically no longer possible for those under the age of 21 to get a credit card on their own, the report said. Though this was a common practice prior to the recession, the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act passed in 2009 now prohibits young adults under that age from opening a credit card in their own name unless they have an adult co-signer on the account or can otherwise prove that they have the financial wherewithal to afford paying down the balances they may rack up on the account.

Because of this, many parents are now opting to put their kids on their own credit card accounts as authorized users, and some may be looking into co-signing on an account, the report said. However, credit qualification requirements have tightened significantly in the last few years, and those parents with diminished credit ratings as a result of financial difficulties they suffered during and immediately following the recession may find that they have difficulty finding new credit. Further, those who do qualify despite lower ratings - because lenders are now expanding issuing efforts to more subprime borrowers - might find that the terms on the new account aren't as favorable as they may have wanted.

However, many parents are also shying away from giving their kids cards of any kind for other reasons, the report said.

"I don't think anything related to debt belongs in the hands of a college kid," Robyn Kahn Federman, communications director of a marketing agency and mother of a 19-year-old college sophomore, told the news agency. "The vast majority are not experienced enough with money or cognizant enough of the risks."

Statistics show that the average college student now graduates from school with several thousand dollars in credit card debt spread across a handful of accounts, which can make it difficult for them to gain financial independence soon after they enter the real world. Those balances come in addition to education debt, which currently averages more than $45,500 per graduate nationwide.