You wouldn't think that colleges and universities, which after all should be looking out for their students' welfare, would need to be banned by law from generating revenue by allowing predatory credit-card companies on campus to solicit students.

Then again, nor would you necessarily think that these students, who after all have made it to college, would need to be protected from the lure and dangers of easy credit.

But alas, Assemblywoman Connie Wagner, D-Bergen, is convinced both are true. And we suspect she is correct.

Wagner is sponsoring a bill that would prohibit New Jersey's public colleges and universities from entering into any agreement for the direct merchandising of credit cards to students. The Assembly recently approved the measure by a 73-1 vote (with five abstentions).

Several studies have shown that college students - even business students - have a shockingly low level of personal financial literacy.

Too many run up huge balances, fail to make payments and end up starting their adult lives with major credit problems. Add heavy student-loan debts to the mix, as well as the dim prospect for good-paying jobs in this economy, and you can see the severity of the problem.

A study published in the April issue of the International Journal of Business and Social Science found that fewer than 10 percent of students with credit cards pay their balances in full every month, and only 15 percent have any idea how much interest they are paying on those balances.

One distraught parent recently wrote the Biz Brain column in The Star-Ledger seeking help for a son who ran up a $20,000 credit-card balance and hadn't made a payment in four years.

As Cliff Robb, an associate professor of personal-financial planning at Kansas State University, told The Wall Street Journal in September, "You see healthy campus initiatives about eating right and alcohol abuse. We talk about grade stress and social stress. But there's rarely a component of financial health and stress."

Good point. (And one answer to the problem may well be more professors of "personal financial planning.")

So count us in favor of Wagner's bill.

Colleges sure shouldn't be in the business of making it easier for their students to commit financial suicide.

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