Is building credit while in College Important?

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Being knowledgeable about money management, budgeting, and other technicalities of finance is not an earnest way to success; however, it’s a great start.

When speaking about finances to college students, topics such as credit card debt, college loans, and personal financial tips make most students cringe.  Getting loans and financial aid for college in America has become a rite of passage, but we can’t rely on refund checks forever. For most college graduates this realization is the wakeup call to adulthood.  

Shocking news came in 2017 when student loan debt surpassed credit card debt, later growing to one trillion for the first time in American history.  This outrageous statistic keeps climbing with no sign of slowing down.

Americans now have more than $1.4 trillion in unpaid educational debt according to a report drawn by the Federal Reserve.

“There’s so much great literature out there right now and has been for a while on how to achieve financial literacy; Understanding what money is and how to make it work for you as opposed to the other way around,” said Florida A&M University’s School of Business and Industry Marketing Professor Gina Kinchlow.

She also drew attention to the myth that all black people are in the same boat financially.

“The black community is fairly diverse; we like for all black people to be in one very well define circle. Economically speaking, it just isn’t that way. We have black billionaires, multimillionaires, and we have blacks that live in poverty.”

Kinchlow knows a thing or two about financial literacy. Not only does she have her Masters in Business Administration, but she had to learn the hard way that money doesn’t grow on trees.

“It wasn’t until I got out on my own that I began to notice my money was not doing enough for me. I was coming up short on bills and not able to buy other things that I wanted to have, and that’s when I went in search of the information.”

There are several nonprofit organizations and financial literacy programs with the primary focus on educating minorities on proper money management tactics.  Nonprofit Finance Fund and Financial Accounting Standards Board are two great non profits that are willing to work with people who struggle financially.  

Local banks such as Wells Fargo also offer financial literacy classes for college and high school students as well as adults in the community.

Many college students rely on their parents to handle the majority of their finances; however, this could be doing more harm than good according to Kinchlow.

“In the African American family, African American mothers and fathers want to provide and do great things for their children, that’s admirable.  But, our children need to learn where that money came from, what it means to invest, what the return on that investment should be.  We cripple our children when we don’t teach them about the value of the dollar.”

Kristina Anderson, a sophomore finance student at Florida State University, noted how important it is to build credit become financially literate adults rather than relying on mommy and daddy to manage our money for us.

“Building credit while in college is a great way to prepare for the near future.  Many things in society deal with having credit.  For instance, financing a car or even purchasing a home, even companies check credit scores for their own personal reasons. Building credit while in college also builds responsibility and prepares you for adulthood.”

Long term financial success and generational wealth is something that many millennials are striving for. It is important to wake up and get serious about your future, both professionally and financially.  Start building today!