Millions of college and university students in the United States are pushed into arrangements whereby at least some of their financial aid is paid out via debit cards, not checks they can deposit wherever they choose. The idea allegedly is that the debit cards are more convenient for students, financial institutions and colleges and universities.
But often hefty fees, chewing several percentage points off the students' financial aid awards, go along with the debit cards. And in some cases, banks provide financial incentives for institutions to handle student financial aid by the debit card method.
Electronic banking has become much more popular during the past few years. It comes naturally to many college-age people.
But it should be an option, not a mandate, especially when tens of thousands of dollars in student financial aid is involved. Even a couple of percentage points in debit card fees can take a substantial bite out what a student thought he or she had available to pay college costs.
Public colleges and universities certainly should operate financial aid as efficiently as possible - but they should not force students into costly debit card arrangements.