A new report from the Federal Reserve shows that colleges in the United States took in $83 million from credit card companies last year.

In exchange, they offered their marketing help to the card issuers, often by providing alumni mailing lists and promotions. Whether these marketing programs are actually effective is an open question.

According to a BankRate summary of the data released by the Fed, "In 2009, credit card issuers paid a grand total of nearly $83.5 million to colleges or related organizations Last year, 53,164 new credit card accounts were opened under these agreements." That works out to about $1,570 per account, much of it driven by college-branded cards marketed to alumni.

An issue like this, however, is really is about the principle. CBS MoneyWatch college writer Lynn O'Shaughnessy said that she would feel "exploited" if she were a student at a school taking money from the credit card industry, and others have chimed in with similar thoughts.

But here are the real numbers: The average college student graduates with about $4,100 in credit card debt, and $24,000 in student loans. So, just based on these numbers, if you want to help students avoid debt, you'd really be better off kicking the financial aid office from campus than giving credit card issuers the boot. Most college students who find themselves larded down with excessive debt did it with the help of the federal government's loan programs and the non-profit college's financial aid office. The colleges themselves are delivering a much more severe body blow to the finances of American college students than any corporate titan could ever dream of doing.

How can $4,100 in credit card debt be a serious problem when six times as much in student-loan debt isn't? Oh, and by the way, credit cards can often be discharged in bankruptcy. Student loans? Almost never.

Obviously college students should avoid credit card debt. But they should also avoid student loan debt. And a $4,100 credit card debt is a much less serious problem than $24,000 in student loans.

Zac Bissonnette's Debt-Free U: How I Paid For An Outstanding College Education Without Loans, Scholarships, Or Mooching Off My Parents was called "best and most troubling book ever about the college admissions process" by The Washington Post.

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Peter

Student loan interest at 6-8% is outrangeous. It used to be 2%. The GOP robbed the American youth there only chance for advancemnt by saddling them with the choice of the Military or $150K of student Loans. Most young peole I know can never afford to payback those loans at the lousy pay offerred by the private sector. Either get an advanced degree in medical field or you are a loser. Do the Math: $150K student debt = $52K year job; No degree =$24K/year Please don't tell about Job the make believe plumber with the make believe company

October 29 2010 at 8:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Peter

Credit card debt is decretionary luxury debt. Student Loans are the difference between earning $24K/year(GOP JOB) and $52K/year (maybe if this government getws off its ass and starts funding real job growrt). The GOP doesn't know how to do it, but I do. Step 1) increase the taxes on companies that exported jobs, they should to China where the jobs went

October 29 2010 at 8:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mickylitz

It always amazes me to see so many spend so much on something no better that what used to be called a high school education which by the way included common sense. Certain professions requires a higher education which by the way is no longer provided, the standards have been lowered and ethics eliminated and to say that eveyone should get a college degree is absurd, unless you want to live in crud somebody will have to pick-up the garbage, it shouldn't take a college degree to drive the truck...Does anyone see where I am going with that ????

October 29 2010 at 8:04 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Peter

Job without student loans = $24K per year Job with $150K student loans =$52K per year Who says the middleclass doesn't create Jobs? What about those University jobs? Beats the $24K/year jobs created by the Rich

October 29 2010 at 8:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Peter

Job without student loans = $24K per year Job with $150K student loans =$52K per year Who says the middleclass doesn't create Jobs? What about those University jobs? Beats the $24K/year jobs created by the Rich

October 29 2010 at 8:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Peter

Job without student loans = $24K per year Job with $150K student loans =$52K per year Who says the middleclass doesn't create Jobs? What about those University jobs? Beats the $24K/year jobs created by the Rich

October 29 2010 at 8:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Peter

Job without student loans = $24K per year Job with $150K student loans =$52K per year Who says the middleclass doesn't create Jobs? What about those University jobs? Beats the $24K/year jobs created by the Rich

October 29 2010 at 8:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Peter

Job without student loans = $24K per year Job with $150K student loans =$52K per year Who says the middleclass doesn't create Jobs? What about those University jobs? Beats the $24K/year jobs created by the Rich

October 29 2010 at 8:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Peter

Job without student loans = $24K per year Job with $150K student loans =$52K per year Who says the middleclass doesn't create Jobs? What about those University jobs? Beats the $24K/year jobs created by the Rich

October 29 2010 at 8:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Peter

Job without student loans = $24K per year Job with $150K student loans =$52K per year Who says the middleclass doesn't create Jobs? What about those University jobs? Beats the $24K/year jobs created by the Rich

October 29 2010 at 8:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply