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Iowa legislator calls for limits to campus credit card offers


An Iowa City legislator called for restrictions on credit card marketing to students at Iowa’s public universities, and the head of the state Board of Regents said the group may seek more information about confidential deals with alumni organizations.

Sen. Joe Bolkcom, a Democrat, said he was concerned by deals between Bank of America and alumni associations at the University of Iowa and Iowa State University. And Board of Regents President Michael Gartner said board staff could look into the matter as a result of media reports and questions from legislators.

The issue arose after The Des Moines Register reported that the two universities are marketing credit cards to students as part of agreements that generate millions of dollars for the schools’ alumni organizations.

Bolkcom said he would propose changes in law or policy to ban on-campus marketing by credit card companies that includes giveaways to entice students to sign up. He also would consider pushing for changes to public disclosure rules that now allow alumni groups to keep secret their contracts with Bank of America.

A student committee plans to lobby for some of Bolkcom’s proposed changes, said Matthew Pfaltzgraf, the government relations liaison for University of Iowa Student Government.

“We also want to address the shadowy relationships universities have with financial institutions like credit card and student loan companies,” Pfaltzgraf said.

Asked to respond to such proposals, University of Iowa spokeswoman Linda Kettner said the school has discussed the matter with its General Assembly and student leaders and would continue to do so.

The Board of Regents, which oversees Iowa’s three public universities, hasn’t been involved in credit card marketing agreements and doesn’t have information about the deals, but the board might seek details, Gartner said.

“If the press and legislators are raising issues about this, I suspect the board staff should try to determine as many facts as possible to brief the board,” Gartner said.

According to state records, the University of Iowa allows the set up of tables on campus, where students are encouraged to sign up for Bank of America credit cards. The school is paid $50 for every application it secures for Bank of America.

The University of Northern Iowa Alumni Association also has refused to release it contract with Bank of America but Mark Jastorff, the group’s president, said the association hasn’t endorsed solicitations of students in the past six months.

Iowa State University has released the contract between its alumni association and Bank of America.

Information from: The Des Moines Register,

–Associated Press

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