Colleges Reap Big Bucks Selling Student Addresses To Credit Card Companies

Colleges are making bucket-loads of cash selling their alumni mailing lists to credit card companies. In some cases, they’re even getting a cut on every credit-card purchase or debit-card transaction a student makes.

Colorado colleges cash in big on credit deals [Denver Post via STL Today via LowCards]


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  1. Robofish says:

    and my college wonders why I don’t contribute any more to the alumni association.

    • MercuryPDX says:

      Cause and effect. They’re probably trying to make up for the lack of donations.

    • apd09 says:

      I flipped out on my college alumni donation department the first time they called me to donate. I was 6 months out of college, and an article was written about how the President of the University was paying his assistant 100K a year while they were cutting back money to student programs. I went to UMASS Amherst and the president, Billy Bulger was refusing to assist the authorities in finding his brother Whitey Bulger one of the FBI 10 most wanted, so I told the alumni donation department until he is no longer president do not call me because he is a joke. he should be leading the way in cutting money from his office but instead is spending more and more, and then he wants his alumni to be fine upstanding individuals who respect everything including the law yet he refuses to assist in finding his brother when it was proven he spoke with him after he went on the run.

      Needless to say in the 10 years since then Billy was fired but I have never again been asked for money and I am part of the alumni association.

    • Liam Kinkaid says:

      Exactly this. University of Houston called me up asking for money and I told them they already made enough money off of me selling my name to Bank of America. They asked how they knew they had sold my name and I told them because the mailings have the U of H logo on it, moron! They haven’t called back.

    • BurtReynolds says:

      I don’t contribute for a number of reasons. First is that the administration at my school is bloated and overpaid in my opinion. Second, they decided to waste money on a D-1 basketball program that ended up getting the school’s name on ESPN for once, after players were arrested and allegations of misconduct were made. The coach has been “suspended with pay” for over a year now. Just fire him or let him try to coach. Third, my name was sold to Visa in my freshman year. We got calls at our dorms almost weekly for the alumni card. They also called my parents for donations while I was in school. They were already “donating” by helping me pay tuition and cosigning the loans.

  2. AllanG54 says:

    Not news here. My alma mater has a branded visa card from some bank. They send me mailings once a year or so. I’ve never taken the card but the college does get a piece of the pie instead of me getting rewards. What’s the big deal.

    • winnabago says:

      Next news story: Colleges reap big bucks selling tshirts and hats with the school’s NAME on them. Oh noes!

      • Rena says:

        Yeah, that’s a totally valid comparison. You know they’re selling off your personal information to produce those shirts.

    • Wombatish says:

      An expectation of privacy from an entity originally imagined to be not much more than a club! An entity that has now become a snarling, greedy, fundraising monster while cutting back on any semblance of the original club-functions (people are having reunions cut or scaled back left and right, and my mom would now have to subscribe – at $100 a year for a *$%&% quarterly – to get her alumni newsletter) are being gutted?

      Yep, no problem!

  3. Etoiles says:

    No kidding. I graduated in 2003 and have moved at least 6 times since then and still, twice a year, like clockwork, get an envelope with the alumni association logo on the outside and a Visa offer on the inside.

    • BurtReynolds says:

      My school can’t find me, and its great. They send stuff to my parent’s house periodically, but never to my home.

  4. Platypi {Redacted} says:

    Well, I know how much our state has been cutting higher education funding. I think they will look for ways to save/generate money anywhere, and you can only directly ASK for it so often. This is just another way to get some extra funding for the school. I would hope that it goes to support actual programs, not inflated salaries for the Football/Basketball coaches. It would be nice if they would offer an opt-out at the University, so you can actively remove yourself from Alumni targeted marketing.

  5. MongoAngryMongoSmash says:

    They got enough of mine the first time through.

  6. c!tizen says:

    Yeah, cause students loans aren’t hard enough to climb out of by themselves…

    • c!tizen says:

      *student loans


    • BurtReynolds says:

      Yeah, if my school knew my phone number, I’d tell them exactly that. In my post above about why I won’t contribute, I meant to include “still paying for the tuition I already gave you”. Probably reason #1. It is like the schools that solicit donations from the actual students. I guess it isn’t enough that you took out a loan for the semester, put books on your credit card, and need any remaining cash to get to your job to pay off your credit card. They want you to give “a little extra”.

  7. Hi_Hello says:

    kinda mess up that I get credit card offer from my school, but they can’t figure out where to send my last work study check….

  8. A.Mercer says:

    Glad I never signed up for the alumni organization. Right now, if I want to donate to the school I contact the student organization I want to receive the money. That way I have a lot better control over where the money is spent and so far I have never been contacted by them asking for more money.

  9. jpdanzig says:

    How pathetic. And we call these institutions of higher learning?

    • captadam says:

      Education isn’t free. You should be applauding creative ways to pay the bills that don’t involve even greater tuition hikes.

      • AstroPig7 says:

        Do you really think that most tuition hikes are the result of higher bills (e.g., maintenance, utilities)?

        • Gulliver says:

          Yes, they actually are. Cost for staff, professors, health care for those employees, maintenance, utilities, all go up. Public universities used to be funded with tax dollars so tuition could remain low. Then the states started cutting back. The option was raise tuition or cut back on internal financial aid, or become a sub standard school. Top schools pay top dollar to get top professors and researchers. The same as the Yankees pay to get the best players.

  10. Cantras says:

    I got one call from the alumni association ever. “Can’t you donate even 5 dollars?” “No, I really can’t. Tell you what though. If you lend me 5 dollars so I can eat until my next paycheck, I’ll pay you back as soon as I can.”

    I almost want them to call me again so I can tell them that I’ll give them $100 if the next 4 emails I get from them use alumni, alumnus, alumna, and/or alumnae properly (and alum not at all).

    • captadam says:

      Well, they probably put you down as a person not to contact, since you obviously were not somebody who was willing to give money. And that’s okay. I just wish more people would realize this: instead of whining when your alma mater calls you, ask that you not be contacted. Simple as that.

      • TheRealDeal says:

        Sometimes that doesn’t work. It took a multitude of e-mails to both the President and a Vice President of Georgia Tech’s Alumni Association as well as multiple calls to get them to stop contacting me. It’s almost been a year, so perhaps it was finally effective, but we’ll see.

  11. Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:

    But they let students opt out of being prostituted to credit card companies, right?



  12. AngryK9 says:

    And yet they still charge exorbitant tuitions.

  13. IThinkThereforeIAm says:

    So poor colleges need to make some more money….

    Several months ago I read an article saying that major Ivy-league private universities have HUGE investment funds (from the endowments they receive from alumni and other “sponsors” – that by the way are tax-free for being non-profit) large enough that they could offer to waive tuition for ALL their students, and pay for it from the interest they earn.

    I am sure that (maybe for a lesser degree) most private universities/colleges have similar funds stashed away, so I am not that sympathetic to their financial woes. Now State and community colleges on the other hand… but wait… aren’t’ those funded by taxpayer’s money? On top of their tuition?

    I know that business is business, but shouldn’t these colleges concentrate more on education than fund-raising?

    • Platypi {Redacted} says:

      State colleges are getting less and less funding from their states. They are relying on Alumni donations and tuition/fees/etc to run their schools. This is just another way for them to get extra bucks in the door to pay for programs, overhead or cheerleader uniforms.

  14. Yentaleh says:

    I attended University of Wa,and WWU back in the day. (early 80’s to mid 90’s) I am a member of both alumni associations and I’ve been bombarded by both universities to try donate a tonne of money. I simply tell them until they can fix the economics of the school and force the schools President into taking a pay cut, I won’t be donating.

    They did the same spiel too…….Can’t you give 5 dollars a month? I laughed and said NO! Five dollars buys me 2 gallons of milk. I have a family to feed. Its not my fault that you squandered my tuition money now is it?

  15. sopmodm14 says:

    yep, and they dont have any problems with raising fees and textbooks, all the while as financial aid decreases

  16. HPCommando says:

    This isn’t news…this has been happening since the 1910s, with colleges and universities selling student names to military recruiters through the 1980s…and many still do.

    Since the 1940s, against Federal law, colleges and universities use the student’s Social Security number as a “student ID”, posted on grade announcement boards on campus.

  17. InsaneNewman says:

    Well hello there, University of Illinois quad… it’s nice to see you again.

  18. sgtyukon says:

    That’s been true for years and my kids’ public high school has also sold alumni mailing addresses.

  19. nybiker says:

    Maybe they (the NCAA) should create more corporate john bowl games so that every college that wants to play in a bowl game can play and they (the NCAA) can charge said johns enough so the colleges that play make some money. Yeah, if they did that, we’d have so many corporate john bowl games getting played, there wouldn’t be time for pro football.
    The marketing spiel I get from my high school and university is that tuition doesn’t cover all the expenses. Gee, then why don’t they (the individual schools, not the NCAA) raise the tuition. Of course, it would mean more financial aid would be needed for the students. But where to get the money to cover those students’ tuition? Scholarships (as in interest earned from endowments which is where the donations go – or are supposed to go). And students might have to borrow more and graduate more even higher debt levels.

    Good luck to all those pursuing a sheepskin.

  20. Willow16 says:

    The college where I did my undergrad has been on a spending spree for years now. They built a new rec center (unnecessary since they already have athletic facilities) and, since the state wasn’t going to pay for it and they weren’t allowed to increase tuition, every student is now assessed an annual fee of $475 that gives them a mandatory membership to the rec center. There is constant building going on there – just this summer they changed the main entrance so it could be more of a pedestrian walkway and made another entrance half a block down the street. These changes were all unnecessary but I guess colleges don’t really care how much they increase fees.

  21. 451.6 says:

    This explains a lot actually. Before I graduated from grad school, I went several years without getting any credit card offers. Now I’m getting almost as much crap as I did the summer before college. You’d think that the 1.5 credit cards I’ve had for the past ten years would be an indicator that I’m not interested in getting any more.

  22. Jonesey says:

    Great picture—Go Illini!!!

  23. Razor512 says:

    I always wondered why these places want donations, you have these colleges making billions in profits, what do they need donations for, if anything they should be donating money to the students who graduate with a degree and cant get a job.

  24. Smultronstallet says:

    Yay, Urbana is on The Consumerist!

  25. isileth says:

    In Italy if you cannot prove of having had an income for a while and keeping on getting it, you don’t get a credit card.
    Probably it was just fiction, but I once saw a CSI episode where two college students committed suicide (or tried to) because they couldn’t pay off their debts with the credit card’s company after they were threatened to sell their parents’ house.
    Apart from the fact that if you take a credit card because they give you an object to spill the beer (like did one of the students), you’re an idiot, a debit belongs to the person who made it, not to the family.
    I don’t think that in the USA you can sell a parent’s house, because of a debt undertaken by a son and if this is true, it’s absurd.