What’s the relationship between student loans and credit scores? You might be surprised! In this article, we take a look at the nine things you should know about student loans so that you can build a great credit score.
Nine Things You Should Know About Student Loans and Credit
First a little background. Student loans are unsecured loans (without any collateral backing them) issued to help with the costs of tuition, books, board, and other school-related expenses. As with any other loan, your credit score is deeply impacted by your student loan. When you make your student loan payments on time, your credit score will improve. If your payments are late or if you skip a payment, your score will drop.
Student loans are a great way for young adults to begin the all-important task of showing lenders that they can handle debt. If lenders see that you can make payments on time and in full, your credit score will go up and you will be more likely to get larger loans in the future.
This is important because you will need credit upon graduating from college. Your first employer might run a credit check, assuming that your credit score is a good indication of whether you are responsible or not. And a landlord will definitely run your credit before renting a home to you.
With all this in mind, here are nine things you should know about student loans and credit.
Student Loans and Credit, Fact #1:
When you apply for a student loan, your credit might or might not be pulled. Some lenders do require a credit score, but others do not. If your credit score is pulled, a credit inquiry will be added to your credit report. This might cause your score to drop, but the impact will be minimal.
Student Loans and Credit, Fact #2:
About 30 percent of your credit score is determined by your outstanding debt: the ratio of how much you owe versus how much you have paid. The more you have paid and the less you owe, the better your score. If your payments are being deferred until you have graduated, or if you have deferred payments for another reason, the ratio will not be in your favor, and your score might drop. However, it will start to increase after about six months of timely payments.
Student Loans and Credit, Fact #3:
With this in mind, consider that students who are positioned to pay back their loans before graduating will enjoy a faster ride to good credit. Even though a lot of student loans do not require repayment until you have graduated, your credit score might be higher if you start repaying the loans immediately. Keep in mind that some employers will run a credit check when you apply for your first post-college job, so having a high credit score could behoove you.
Some people have speculated that if borrowers pay back their student loans too fast, they will lose credit points (presumably because the maximum interest on the loan will not be accrued if the loan is paid off early). I think this is a bogus claim. The exact details of credit-scoring formula have not been released, so I cannot definitely confirm this theory one way or another, but I seriously doubt its accuracy. Credit-scoring bureaus are not interested with your creditor’s ability to earn the most interest, but rather with your ability to repay your loan on time. The bureaus want to know that you will pay your debts on time. Paying your student loans sooner rather than later is a wise thing to do because your debt-to-principal ratio will drop and your score should increase.
Student Loans and Credit, Fact #4:
Before you leave college, avail yourself of the opportunity to receive exit counseling, a service most schools offer to prepare their students to repay federal student loans. This counseling can provide you valuable information about your rights and responsibilities and the terms and conditions of your loans.
Student Loans and Credit, Fact #5:
Once you begin repaying your loan, never miss a payment. Here’s something you might not know about student loans and credit: 35 percent of your total credit score will be drawn from your payment history on credit cards and loans.
Student Loans and Credit, Fact #6:
If you cannot make a payment, ask for forbearance, a short-term agreement that allows you to make smaller payments, or no payments at all. Otherwise, you will harm your credit score. Keep in mind that if you do not make payments, interest will continue to accrue and the amount due will grow larger.
Student Loans and Credit, Fact #7:
Keep in touch with your lender. If you are struggling with your payments, never wait until the lender approaches you or until a delinquency notice is logged on your record. Instead, initiate communication with your lender. Talk about forbearance or student loan consolidation.
Student Loans and Credit, Fact #8:
Student loans can never be discharged during bankruptcy.
Student Loans and Credit, Fact #9:
Making regular payments on your student loans is a great way for young adults to begin building their credit score, setting the foundation for better loan terms and lower interest rates on future loans, and saving bundles over the course of a lifetime. But this isn’t enough. As you move on after school, you should try to incorporate different types of credit into your finances while keeping current on your payments. The mix of credit you have makes up 10 percent of your score. The credit scoring bureaus want to see that you can handle a variety of types of loans—from credit cards to student loans to car loans.
Now that you know the nine important facts about student loans and credit, be sure you learn the 38 facts the banks don’t want you to know! These money-saving tips and insider secrets about credit scores can help you save a bundle and position yourself for success.