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This credit education section was created through a joint effort between StudentMarket.com, Inc. and Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Southern New England, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people prevent and resolve financial problems. The purpose of this section is to highlight the importance and implications of handling credit responsibly and establishing a positive credit history. We recommend that you read this credit education program before taking advantage of the secure, online student credit card applications is available.

Student Credit Cards: Establishing an A+ Credit History

Your credit history is essentially your financial "reputation." Lenders use information on how you have handled your financial obligations in the past when determining whether to approve or deny a credit application. In addition to helping lenders determine if you are "creditworthy," your credit report can be reviewed by any company or individual with a "legitimate business need." For example, your credit report can be used to determine your eligibility for an apartment rental, employment, and insurance. You should seize the opportunity to control your future by understanding responsible money management and learning tips to build and maintain a good credit history.

First, keep track of how you're spending your money. Don't you wonder where it all goes anyway? Try to write down every expenditure for at least one month. Some of the totals may surprise you. (Coffee and pizza really add up!) Estimate expenses for any items that did not come up for that month so that you have a complete picture of your average monthly expenses (tuition, rent, utilities, books, insurance, entertainment, membership dues, auto registration, etc.). Next, figure out your net monthly income (from scholarships, part-time work, financial support from family, etc.). Net income is the amount you end up with after deductions, such as taxes, are made.

Now subtract your expenses from your income. If the result is positive, then you should consider setting up an emergency fund, paying off debt, and/or saving toward a goal. However, if the result is negative then your spending is exceeding your income, and you should look at ways to either increase your income or trim some non-essential expenses (for example, the monthly addition of 5 new CD's to the music collection!). Simple lifestyle changes can make a big difference over the long run. A small daily expense of $3.00 for a snack adds up to a yearly expense of nearly $1100!

Next, find out how to make informed decisions when choosing and using a student credit card.

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