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Texas A&M Cadets Have First Black Commander; Ignorance Leading to High Student Credit Card Debt

First Black Commander. Nearly 50 years after Texas A&M became racially integrated, a black student has reached the top of the school’s most prominent organization. Marquis Alexander, 22, will become the first black commander of A&M’s Corps of Cadets. “I’m not going to lie. There is a sense of pride that’s there,” Alexander said. “I look at it as encouragement to other people to get out and do whatever they want no matter what their background is.” Alexander’s accomplishment certainly indicates progress, though minorities remain underrepresented at the institution. Less than four percent of the school’s 40,000 students are African-American. [The Associated Press]

More Debt Problems. Loans aren’t the only source of problematic debt for students. Credit card debt is a major burden for college students and it’s only getting worse by the year, according to a new study. To make matters worse, the problems largely stem from students being “financially illiterate.” Of the 70 percent of American college students who have credit cards, 83 percent do not know their card’s interest rates. Of respondents, 75 percent said they don’t know their late payment charges, and none knew what their over-balance-limit fees might be. It’s not surprising, then, that more than 90 percent of college students who hold credit cards are carrying monthly credit card debt. The student credit card debt problem has spiraled out of control over the past decade. In 2004, the average college student had $946 in credit card debt. That average has ballooned to more than $4,100 today. [Fox Business]

Student Veto Power. California college students have struggled as of late with tuition hikes—but if a bill that is advancing through the state legislature becomes law, they may be able to reverse the trend. SB 960, which cleared the Senate Education Committee last week, would prevent the California State University system from increasing student fees without a “yes” vote from either the student body or a campus fee advisory committee made up of mostly student members. For all intents and purposes, the bill would give students veto power over any new fees. The CSU system opposes the bill, citing concerns over the potential restriction of authority of the board and chancellor to manage its campuses. The system has suffered from $1 billion in cuts over the past four years, while annual tuition has increased $1,500 in the last year alone. [California Watch]

Minority Underrepresentation. A new admissions policy in Texas is under fire after a study revealed it has led to the significant underrepresentation of Hispanics on the state’s public school campuses. Under Texas’ “Top 10 Percent program,” public universities must enroll students based on their performance in comparison to their high school classmates, rather than with all applications. Advocates say the policy ensures that high school students at the top of their class are admitted, which could lead to enrolling more students from poor communities. Others argue, however, that the policy is not as effective as the previous affirmative action policy at selecting a racially diverse student body. According to the study, the policy has led to an annual decrease in Hispanic applicants of up to 309 at the University of Texas, and nearly 500 at Texas A&M University. [The Huffington Post]

Graham White was a former intern with Generation Progress and now is on the executive board of the Black Law Students Association at Yale. You can follow him on Twitter @GrahamWhiteNY.

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