Rulisa Galloway was graduated from John Jay College of Criminal Justice five years ago with a bachelor's degree in government and eight credit cards with a total of $4,000 in balances.
Ms. Galloway, who now works in the college bursar's office, stopped using her cards in 1993 and is still paying them off.
"When I got to college, (card marketers) were there giving you free gifts," said Ms. Galloway, 28. "You didn't even need to have a job to get credit."
Ms. Galloway said she had four classmates who filed for bankruptcy right after graduation.
The New York City school has since banned card solicitors from campus, but even that might not have prevented Ms. Galloway's predicament. She got most of her cards through preapproved applications mailed to her. Once she had signed up for her first card, other companies got her name, and the offers kept coming.