As a college student there will be many decisions that you need to make about your financial standing and future that are concepts you won't learn in the classroom. You will have the opportunity to begin establishing your credit through routine bill payments or through the use of credit cards. The manner in which you handle your credit can affect your future in a positive and negative ways.
As you prepare for each academic year you should ask yourself a few questions to make sure you are aware of your current financial standing.
- What is the total amount that I am borrowing to attend school this year?
We recommend that you only borrow what you need to pay your expenses. Purchase what you need, not everything you want.
- How will I budget my financial aid funds to cover my expenses?
It is important to have a budget to live by so you know your financial obligations each month. Any money you borrow has to be repaid, so use those funds wisely
- What is my total student loan debt?
We often hear from students after graduation when they are appalled at their student loan repayment. If you keep a running tab on your student loan debt you will be more conscious of what you will be obligated to repay after graduation.
For all of your Federal Student Loans you can use the National Student Loan Database (NSLDS) - https://studentaid.gov/.
If you have borrowed Private Education Loans you will need to review the loan agreement you signed with your chosen lender.
- What happens if I have an expense I can't pay?
Have a plan of where to go if you receive a bill you aren't expecting. If you have someone who has agreed to help you, ask them to see if they are willing to help in an emergency. Be sure to speak with a Financial Aid Counselor about the expense to see if you have any additional loan eligibility.
Tips for Establishing Good Credit:
- Only borrow the amount of money that you need.
- If you chose to obtain a credit card, compare cards and chose wisely.
- Only obtain a credit card to help establish credit, do not use a credit card to pay your expenses. Student loan repayment is much more flexible than credit card repayment.
- Pay off credit card balances every billing cycle
- Understand how much interest you will be charged for any balance you do not pay each cycle
- Have a plan to pay off a credit card balance, do not merely make minimum payments each month.
- Protect your identity. Do not provide credit card numbers or your social security number over a cellular or cordless telephone.
- Check your credit score once a year.