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Are You Credit Wise? College Outreach Program Demonstrates That the Answer is Yes!; MasterCard's Campus-Based Peer-to-Peer College Education Program Teaches More Than 375,000 How to Use Credit Responsibly

MasterCard International today announced that during the 2004-2005 academic year, the "Are You Credit Wise?" college campus peer-to-peer consumer credit education program reached more than 125,000 students, providing them with valuable information on responsible credit use. With the conclusion of this academic year, MasterCard's six-year old program has now reached more than 375,000 students at over 50 colleges and universities in the United States and Canada.

"The MasterCard 'Are You Credit Wise?' program is a unique way to teach college students about managing credit responsibly," said Patrick Dwyer, vice president, consumer and government affairs, MasterCard International. "College students are much more likely to receive, and act upon vital money management information if it comes from one of their peers rather than a parent, professor or administrator. That's exactly what our program accomplishes. By focusing on the peer-to-peer communication model program, we've been able to break through to college students with important money management and budgeting tips."

The MasterCard "Are You Credit Wise?" initiative trains student interns to lead campus-wide education campaigns focused on the fundamentals of good credit habits. Activities include:

-- Hosting school wide intern-led presentations on money management;

-- Organizing and officially designating an "Are you Credit Wise?" week during the semester;

-- Sponsoring smaller workshops in residence halls or as part of orientation programs; and,

-- Providing consumer education materials to the student body.

This year's interns addressed topics such as: creating and sticking to a budget; responsible credit card use; maintaining and improving credit scores and understanding a credit report; and, preventing fraud and identity theft.

Recent data indicates that college outreach programs such as "Are You Credit Wise?" are working. According to a recent study by the Credit Research Center at Georgetown University that was published in the Journal of Student Financial Aid in November 2004, college students have smaller balances and lower credit limits than other cardholders. Furthermore, nearly 88 percent of college student credit card accounts are paid on time and considered in good standing. Students (44.5 percent) also are more likely than older adults (42.2 percent) and young adults not in college (35.5 percent) to pay their balances in full every month.

"Are You Credit Wise?" interns are selected from among hundreds of applicants. They must demonstrate a proven ability to communicate to student groups, administrators and student media, as well as have strong writing and presentation skills.

During the 2005 academic year, 15 students from 15 different colleges participated in the "Are You Credit Wise?" program, bringing the total number of interns to date to 61 who have led peer-to-peer campaigns. This year's schools were the University of Florida, Illinois State University, Howard University, Central Michigan University, Washington State University, San Diego State University, University of Missouri, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Texas A&M, The Ohio State University, Penn State University, University of Nevada Las Vegas in the United States, and McMaster University, Wilfrid Laurier and University of British Columbia in Canada.

Interns used a variety of approaches to reach their fellow students. "Are you Credit Wise?" intern Amy Leahing of the University of Florida reached students through a role playing exercise, in which two audience members learned to scale back and stick to a budget more appropriate to a college student's income. Leahing recalls, "The students really enjoyed that and responded well to the messages."

Overall, interns found the program to be a positive experience and felt that they made a lasting impression on their fellow students. Leahing recalls a conversation she had with a student leader after one of her presentations, "The Black Student Union vice president enjoyed it so much and felt the messages were so important that she asked me to speak to a group of incoming freshman this summer."

Across the nation, faculty and administrations have also embraced the "Are You Credit Wise?" program. Larry L. Christopherson, PhD, financial specialist at The Ohio State University, found the program so valuable that he co-presented several times with "Are Your Credit Wise?" intern Danielle Karpus and even co-sponsored a "Credit Wise Week." As for future collaboration, Christopherson had this to say, "I do hope that this program can continue, as the message needs to be available to the new students who enter our university next year, as well as those who will undoubtedly find themselves in need of expert information."

MasterCard also recently announced the launch of a similar program for Chinese university students. The program will include a series of campus talks and a marketing strategy competition to provide students with first hand credit management experience. In a survey of university students in China, 62 percent of respondents indicated that they were interested in receiving basic information on payment cards and other financial management tools.

About MasterCard International

MasterCard International is a leading global payments solutions company that provides a broad variety of innovative services in support of our global members' credit, deposit access, electronic cash, business-to-business and related payment programs. MasterCard International manages a family of well-known, widely accepted payment cards brands including MasterCard(R), Maestro(R) and Cirrus(R) and serves financial institutions, consumers and businesses in over 210 countries and territories. The MasterCard award-winning Priceless(R) advertising campaign is now seen in 96 countries and in 48 languages, giving the MasterCard brand a truly global reach and scope. For more information go to or refer to our filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

(C) Copyright 2005 Business Wire & Collegiate Presswire. All Rights Reserved.

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