It’s your money, and you need… to build your credit score

Upon entering college, most students become closer to financial independence. With this increased independence comes increased financial responsibility.

Bill Hardekopfe, CEO of and a frequent contributor to Forbes magazine, said the most important step in becoming financially stable is to start to build a good credit score right after graduation.

“Build your credit score as high and solidly as possible,” he said. “Students have been dealing with test scores their whole lives, but now the most important score they’re going to get is a credit score.”

Hardekopfe explained the importance of credit scores and how they can affect college students in the future. He said that a credit score could determine what kind of interest rates someone can get on a car or house loan.

“Employers also look at your credit score to determine whether they want to hire you or not,” Hardekopfe said.

Hardekopfe focused on some of the ways that graduating students can build a good credit score. He said that students might want to put some bills or a credit card in their name and then make the payments for those items when they are due. He said that the next step is to save up for an emergency fund and to pay off their debts as soon as possible.

“There are so many college kids in debt. About 40 percent of people under 30 have outstanding student loans,” he said. “Don’t wait to pay on a loan. Interest will accrue on a student loan — whether it is by the year, month, or day, depending on what kind of loan a student took out.”

James Stranger, financial associate director at Youngstown State University extended his own advice on student loans. He said students should get in contact with their loan servicer after graduation.

“Student loan servicers will be in contact via mail or email leading up to their first payment, and students should be aware of who is servicing their loans and what their loan debt amounts to,” he said.

Stranger said that students have a six-month repayment period after their last semester of classes to start paying money back on loans, and that students should find out who that service may be.

“Students enter repayment six months after they graduate or leave school — which is six months after their last semester of attending at least half-time. Multiple repayment plans are available and the student can work with their servicer to find the plan that works best for them,” he said.

Aubri Warminski, a business major at YSU, said that she feels that she spends her money wisely and will not be in financial trouble.

“Once I get a stable job and actually dive into my career, I’ll be able to start paying back my loans,” she said. “As for right now, I’m just focusing on getting through college first.”

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