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2002 PE Report stories

Congregations demonstrate weekly prayer yields results (December 30, 2001)

L.A. Dream Center, Angelus Temple make history, reach more with merge (December 16, 2001)

Rain, gang doesn't halt impact of newly formed congregation (December 9, 2001)

Women urged to minister hope at global gathering (November 25, 2001)

Volunteers meet needs at Pentagon cleanup (November 18, 2001)

Fear, uncertainty open window of opportunity for evangelism (November 11, 2001)

'Jump for Jesus' raises $40,000 for STL (October 21, 2001)

Widows, single mothers gain practical blessings (October 14, 2001)

Five new executive presbyters elected (September 30, 2001)

Credit card 'freedoms' tempt college students (September 16, 2001)

Fellowship, nation show ethnic makeup changes (August 26, 2001)

Congregations extend a hand, spread gospel after tropical storm (August 19, 2001)

Single-parent families find hope at camp (August 12, 2001) caught in middle of culture war (July 22, 2001)

Pentecostal World Conference looks toward future cooperation (July 13, 2001)

Crossover Community Church ministers to hip-hop culture (July 8, 2001)

Prison chaplain hooked on ministry (June 24, 2001)

National Singles team convenes, plans regional conferences (June 17, 2001)

Children's ministries take center stage (June 10, 2001)

U.S. Christians trek to Israel despite news reports of danger (May 27, 2001)

A/G ministries combat eating disorders (May 20, 2001)

Mobilizing laity leads to church growth (May 13, 2001)

Fellowship convenes conference for women (April 29, 2001)

14,547 'honored guests' attend Convoy of Hope outreach in Dallas (April 22, 2001)

Hollywood sends wrong signals on teen smoking (April 15, 2001)

Iowa community faces unique challenges (April 8, 2001)

Churches support ministries to lead youth out of lifestyle (March 25, 2001)

English lessons reach Chinese with gospel (March 18, 2001)

A/G church, police, schools partner for strong community (March 11, 2001)

Church uses 'human hunt' as evangelism tool for teens (February 25, 2001)

Ministering in the fast lane (February 18, 2001)

Abstinence education saves lives, futures (February 11, 2001)

Donated food helps Convoy of Hope extend hand around the world (January 21, 2001)

American Indian College students impact boarding school (January 14, 2001)

2000 News Digest stories

Credit card ‘freedoms’ tempt college students

(September 16, 2001)

First-year college students, many away from home for the first time, face many temptations. They likely have been warned about sexual impurity and binge drinking, but they may have received little or no parental advice about a subtler lure: credit cards.

Typically, students registering for fall classes also must make their way past a myriad of tables where trained credit card representatives press them to apply for a card in exchange for a free T-shirt with the school’s logo. Applicants need no co-signer or proof of income to obtain a card with up to a $5,000 limit.

Nellie Mae, which issues federally guaranteed student loans, reported earlier this year that college undergraduates carry an average credit card balance of $2,748, up from $1,879 only three years ago. Nellie Mae indicated that 78 percent of college students had credit cards while 32 percent had four or more.

Credit card companies and banks, which mailed 3.3 billion credit card solicitations last year — about 30 per household — spend billions of marketing dollars telling students they deserve large lines of credit. Students entering Christian schools are no exception. Once at school, students regularly receive card offers in their mailboxes.

"It’s amazing how many incoming students already have a credit card or have been approached about getting one," says Jennifer Fetters, senior financial aid counselor at Northwest College in Kirkland, Wash.

Mary Hunt, author of Debt-Proof Your Kids and editor of Cheapskate Monthly newsletter, advises parents to allow college-attending children to have a card only if it’s in the student’s name and has a $500 limit. Many parents have found their credit rating ruined by children who have charged thousands of dollars to their account, Hunt says. She also recommends that any balance be paid immediately so that no interest charges accrue. She says students shouldn’t obtain a card with an annual fee or one that promises payoffs, such as free airline miles or discounts on a new car the more it is used.

"It’s easy to say I’ll pay for it later," Fetters says. "But if you buy a $15 pizza with a credit card it ultimately can end up costing you $45."

The average annual cost of tuition at a private four-year college escalated to $16,332 in 2000, meaning that few students can make it through without borrowing money. "The Bible does not prohibit borrowing," says Atlanta-based financial expert Ron Blue, author of Raising Money-Smart Kids. "Rather, Scripture discourages it by pointing out the dangers associated with going into debt. Students should not go into debt without a carefully considered repayment plan."

Experts say credit cards aren’t inherently bad, especially if students need to pay for an unexpected car repair or flight home. However, many collegians are looking for ways to defer not only tuition costs but also everyday expenses. Innumerable first-year students have found plastic cards a way of easily acquiring items such as DVDs and CDs.

"It’s nice to have a credit card for emergencies, but the latest sale at Nordstrom’s is not an emergency," Fetters says. "Students need to learn to live within their budget. We advise them not to buy anything unless it’s absolutely necessary."

"Students can easily run up $25,000 in debt their freshman year in college," says Hunt, who lives in Garden Grove, Calif. Hunt advises students to flee the temptation of putting tuition payments on credit cards. "Education at a pricey private school is not a given right," she says.

Hunt says it’s a fallacy to presume that debt will quickly be paid off upon graduation. Many students start raising a family and take on a mortgage soon after college. In addition, others fail to attain the dream job they sought, which makes a monthly $300 Visa or MasterCard bill a tremendous burden.

First-year students who run up bills they cannot pay can set in motion a life-changing trajectory. Some have to decrease their class load and increase their work schedule, which can cause a drop in grades. Some drop out entirely to pay off debts.

– John W. Kennedy

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