Maintaining Credit: A Guide For Students

moneymanagementObtaining and maintaining credit is an essential part of modern life. If you are one of the many students who will apply for student loans, you need to be aware that borrowing wisely and managing your financial obligations are your responsibility. So it may be helpful to obtain a copy of your credit bureau report. It’s easy and may be offered for free. While federal student loans are generally available to students regardless of credit, private loan interest rates and fees will depend a great deal on your credit score, so keep this in mind when applying for private loans.

CAUTION! It may be tempting to use your credit card to pay your living expenses, tuition bill, or to reward yourself with a special purchase. We urge you to use your credit card(s) wisely since it is another monthly payment to make, and falling behind on a payment can adversely affect your credit rating. The bottom line? Use credit cards with great caution! Here are some other good tips regarding the use of credit cards:

  • Try to pay off your credit card debt before you enroll in order to reduce your monthly expenses.
  • Consider enrolling in a monthly payment plan instead of using your credit card for your student account.
  • Use the card for emergencies, not for routine living or as a convenience.
  • Remember that late charges and finance charges dramatically increase your credit card debt.
  • Don’t play the revolving credit card game, using a new card to pay off existing credit card debt.
  • Your credit card debt will be used to calculate your debt-to-income ratio and may make you ineligible for some private loans.
  • If you are late in making payments, it will impact your credit rating. You may be denied education or consumer loans, and later on in life, you may not be able to obtain a mortgage or even have the ability to rent an apartment if you make late credit card payments.
  • Always try to pay off the balance at the end of each month.

If you’re unsure of the status of your credit history, you can order and review your personal credit report. Credit reports will include information on your credit cards and consumer accounts, even inactive ones. Any federal student loan information will also be contained in the report.