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California congressman: college students shouldn't be charged "hidden" debit card fees



College students complain that the debit cards issued for their financial aid charge withdrawal fees. Officials are investigating.
College students complain that the debit cards issued for their financial aid charge withdrawal fees. Officials are investigating.
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Debit cards, fast replacing cash and checks, have become a common vehicle for colelges to dole out financial aid. Students have complained the card issuers are ripping them off, pennies at a time and thsoe complaints have reached authorities.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced on Thursday that it has launched an inquiry into whether school-issued debit card agreements are in the best interest of students.

The government agency, which enforces federal consumer financial laws, last year began hearing from students who’d been charged fees to withdraw money to pay for college.

California Congressman George Miller said his office found that nearly one million college students in the state have very little access to fee-free ATMs. Only one on each campus.

“Too many students,” Miller said in a statement “have been slammed with hidden fees and penalties that cut into their already limited financial aid dollars. And if students don't pay close attention, they can find precious aid dollars wasted on debit-card fees.”

The Consumer Protection Bureau offers this advice to college students about to receive loans, scholarships, or any other kind of aid: