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Michigan State Rose Bowl tickets too expensive? Take out a loan

A screenshot of the MSU Federal Credit Union's website offering the "Bowl Loan."

With tickets for the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1 set to be the most expensive in the 112-year history of the event, a Michigan credit union is offering loans to Michigan State University fans who need some extra cash to get to the game in Pasadena, Calif. The Michigan State University Financial Credit Union is offering "Bowl Loans" starting at $1,000 with interest rates as low as 6.8 percent for students and alumni who thought their student loans just weren't enough debt for them.

The 2014 Rose Bowl is the Michigan State Spartans' first appearance since 1988 in what many consider the most storied of college football bowl games, and as such the school's demand for tickets from students and season ticketholders has outstripped its 24,000 allotment of tickets the event gives each team. Combine that with the fact that the game against Stanford is the 100th time the Rose Bowl has been played since 1902, and you get ticket prices averaging $901 with a median $482 per ticket (and rising) through resellers like Stub Hub. (That's a 122 percent increase over the last two years' prices and possibly the most expensive tickets in the event's history.)

With the record demand for tickets, the Michigan State University Financial Credit Union -- owned and operated by the Michigan State University community -- started offering the loans earlier this month. The 6.8 percent interest rate is only available for those whose credit scores qualify for it, but a borrower in good standing could expect to pay $111 on a $2,000 loan over the 18-month repayment period.

For context, round-trip airfare from Michigan to California for two could cost at least $2,000, and those lucky enough to snag tickets through the school would pay $150 plus a $25 processing fee for each ticket.

While the Rose Bowl may be "The Grandaddy of Them All" for college football, the BCS National Championship game between Auburn and Florida State (also happening in Pasadena) is commanding even higher ticket prices at an average of $1,864 per ticket.

The decision to take out a loan to see a football game might seem unusual, or even unwise, but for some, the excitement over the Spartans' first Rose Bowl in 25 years is trumping financial responsibility.

About the author

Shea Huffman is a graduate of USC's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, and a fill-in web producer for Marketplace.

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