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Credit Card Applications » News » Other » Credit Counselors Offer 10 Tips for College Grads

Credit Counselors Offer 10 Tips for College Grads

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As the strains of Pomp and Circumstance fade away and a newly minted class of college graduates prepares to head into the world of adult responsibilities, credit scores might be the last thing on their minds.

Students are used to worrying about their grade point averages—but when they apply for a job, an apartment, a business loan or a mortgage, it will be their credit score, not their GPA, that counts. It’s important that graduates understand the impact their credit scores have on their futures, and take steps to improve a bad credit score or maintain a good one.

Credit counselors at GreenPath Debt Solutions, a nonprofit agency that helps consumers with credit card, housing, and student loan debt, offer these ten smart finance tips for new college grads:

  1. Contact your student loan issuer and ask for a six-month deferment as soon as you have your diploma in hand. This gives you time to get a job lined up and sock some funds away before you have to begin making loan payments.

  2. Review your credit report. Check for errors and familiarize yourself with all the information on it. You can get a free copy from each of the three major credit bureaus at www.annualcreditreport.com.

  3. Take stock of the credit cards you have opened and consider which you will continue using. Remember that maintaining at least one credit card account, which you pay off each month, helps build your credit score.

  4. If there is any negative information on your credit report, be prepared to explain it to prospective employers and reassure them that you are on top of your credit situation.

  5. Make sure you do not have any unpaid debts at your school. Check with the registrar to make sure all library fines, parking tickets, etc. are paid up.

  6. Notify the post office, bank and your credit card issuers of your new address if you are moving after graduation. You don’t want to miss any bills, statements or letters from creditors.

  7. Take some time to build up savings after graduation. A new apartment, new car, and other major expenses can usually wait until you find your financial footing.

  8. Make a budget and keep track of your spending. List all the places you spend money: grocery store, restaurants, clothing stores, etc. Don’t let your first paycheck go to your head. Know where your money is going and have a spending plan so it doesn’t slip through your fingers.

  9. Open a savings account and get in the habit of putting part of your paycheck directly into savings. Be sure to sign up for your employer’s retirement plan as well.

  10. If you have credit card debt, begin aggressively paying it down right away. Contact a credit counseling agency for assistance if you’re having trouble making minimum payments or need help formulating a strategy to pay off debt.

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