This story comes from the Arizona Republic as part of the general effort to maintain the ban on payday loan companies passed earlier this year (their is a proposition on the ballot in November to overturn the ban).
At least 5 percent of last year's freshmen at the University of Arizona obtained a payday loan, a figure the surveyor described as "very alarming."
Arizona's Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences conducted
the survey, which measured the financial habits of 2,172 freshmen -
about a third of the class - who enrolled in fall 2007.
Student use of payday loans
more than doubled based on a survey taken a year ago that included
freshmen through seniors, said professor Soyeon Shim, the group's
"As consumers, students shouldn't be using payday loans as a resort to deal with financial stress," Shim said.
I wouldn't really recommend that students use this expensive form of ready cash, but I can't say I am particularly alarmed. How can any of us know what pressures they are under. In most circumstances, paying a 30% interest rate seems too high. But I know, from personal experience, there are times when short term liquidity is so valuable you might pay anything for it (just look - the American taxpayers are paying about a trillion dollars this year just for short-term liquidity).
In fact, if students have a bad experience, it's probably better to learn a $100 life lesson in college rather than a $500,000 life lesson later flipping condos on interest-only loans. I personally had my own caveat emptor eye-opener with Columbia House Records in college. Nothing like getting stuck with a couple of over-priced America albums to teach financial horse sense. Muskrat Love... aaaarrrggghhh!
Anyway, the effort to ban payday loans altogether is one of those elitist, snobby, holier-than-thou, we're smarter than you unwashed masses issues. Middle class homeowners who are upside down in their mortgages are not calling for inexpensive mortgages to be banned, they just want a government bailout. The government may spend a trillion dollars in the end supporting the mortgage market. But if poor people pay a high fee for a $100 loan, we have to ban the whole industry.
The fact is that there is always a demand for ready cash at high interest rates, and if you drive it under ground, people just go to Tony Soprano instead.
Oh, but you are not for banning payday loans, you just think the interest rates are too high, and that what is needed is government regulation of the rates? Uh, OK, I'm sure that will go well. Past government efforts to reduce the interest rate premium for risk have worked out really well *cough* mortgages *cough*.
But, if you are still thinking that you are much smarter in money management than people who go to payday loan stores and you really want to use the coercive power of government to force poor people to make the same decisions you would, here's this:
However, for those who think they are ever so much smarter than payday
loan customers, who are charged a lot of money for small liquidity
boosts, consider this: Let's say you take out $40 each week from an
ATM to keep you liquid and that the ATM fee is $1.50. You are
therefore spending $1.50 or 3.75% for a one week liquidity boost of
$40, which you must again refresh next week. Annualized, you are
effectively paying 195% to get liquid with your own money. For this kind of vig, at least payday loan customers are getting the use of someone else's money.