MasterCard and Florida A&M University are teaming up to teach students the importance of credit worthiness.
“Are You Credit Wise” is a national internship program to raise financial literacy among college students. Sentrell Marsh, 20, a junior public relations student from Miami, was selected to bring the program to FAMU this semester.
“It’s students giving students valuable information and advice on financial management,” Marsh said. “Student’s response to money management information is better if it’s from their peers. This program teaches college students how to be credit wise. It teaches budgets, managing credit, managing debt and the importance of credit reports.”
The program is in its ninth year and has been successful on many college campuses across the country. Many students see the importance of building good credit.
“My credit score is like five something,” said Michael Hollingsworth, a 19 year-old business administration student from Chicago, Ill. If I would’ve known what my score was in the beginning I would’ve done something to improve it. I needed to know.”
Marsh said it is necessary to maintain good credit while in school. She said having bad credit may hinder a person’s in many ways.
“It’s important to be credit worthy while in college because if after college your credit score is low it can hurt your chances of renting an apartment or buying a house,” said Marsh. “It can prevent you from being approved for a car loan or business loan. It can affect your chances of getting jobs. Your score impacts the kind of limit on your credit card(s) and the interest rate available to you. Bad credit management can stay on your credit report for 7 years!”
March also said students can maintain a good credit score by being conscious of their buying and spending habits.
“Be responsible,” Marsh said. “Put yourself on a budget. Don’t just swipe your credit card just to swipe it. It’s not free money. In addition, pay your bills on time, keep balances low on credit cards, pay off debt, do not open unnecessary lines of credit, do not close unused credit cards as a short time strategy.”
Students agree that being responsible with credit is imperative.
“I definitely believe being credit worthy is important,” said Austin Townsend, a 19 year-old business administration student from Milwaukee, Wis. ” Your credit is your history, so if you have bad credit you delete a lot of prospects for your future. You can’t do what you want.”
Marsh recommends students request their credit score at www.annualreport.com, a web site funded through the government.
She also explained how students can get into a bind with their credit scores.
“Different restaurants come on campus offering free food if you sign up for a credit card and it does show up on your credit report,” said Marsh. “It’s just best that you don’t even fill out the form. Unused credit cards bring your score down!”
Marsh warned that late or skipped payments, bounced checks, overdrawn accounts and paying credit cards with other credit cards damage credit scores. She said by nipping bad spending habits in the bud, students will be able to take care of business wisely.