Key findings:

Our examination of affinity agreements involving some of the nation’s largest and most prestigious colleges revealed that schools and alumni associations:

    • Sell students’ personal information. Many are contractually obligated to share students’ names, phone numbers and addresses with banks.
    • Earn royalties: Banks typically pay schools $1 for each student who keeps a credit card open for 90 days. When students carry a balance, some schools can collect up to $3 more per card.
    • Cash in each time a student uses plastic:Many schools are entitled to receive 0.4 percent of all retail purchases made with student cards.
    • Benefit from marketing incentives: When a university or alumni association agrees to market cards to students itself, the payoff is greater — sometimes up to $60 for each card opened through a school's own marketing. 
    • Offer special perks: Banks sometimes gain special access to athletic events. Cornell University must provide Chase Bank with tickets and "priority" parking passes at football, basketball, hockey and lacrosse games.