Financial Literacy

Financial Literacy 101 for College Students

College Foundation of North Carolina

This interactive financial literacy course, along with videos and games can help you make responsible choices about managing money. Learn how to avoid financial pitfalls such as overspending, misusing credit and not budgeting.

The financial literacy online programs and their instructor guides are available as a secure and integrated part of your CFNC experience through an agreement with Decision Partners, a financial literacy education organization.


The choices you make about how you pay for school have a long-term impact, so it’s important to understand your options and make smart decisions today that will help you in the future. That’s where GradReady comes in. GradReady is a valuable resource that can help you prepare for school.


Money Management for Students

We want all of our students to become educated consumers so that they can make smart decisions when handling their finances.

Test Your Knowledge...It's Quick and Easy!

Mapping Your Future’s
12-step financial literacy online counseling session will provide you with some basic financial knowledge that will guide on the path to financial success.

The National Endowment for Financial Education developed the web site specifically to help college-age students on campuses across the country. Money management skills and access to personal financial planning resources are necessary for college students to build a healthy financial future. We are pleased that we can offer this important resource to students.

Worksheets to help you organize your finances:

Worksheets to help you organize your finances: is the U.S. government’s website dedicated to teaching all Americans the basics about financial education.

Financial Literacy Web Resources

Manage your credit card debt, a consumers guide.

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Additional Online Counseling Tools

  • - Student and Financial Literacy.
  • Consumer Affairs - Student and Financial Literacy
  • The Truth About Credit- Truth About Credit is a project of the U.S. PIRG Education Fund and the Student PIRGs (Public Interest Research Groups). It aims to raise awareness about the extreme credit card debt affecting many college students today.
  • The Education Finance Council (EFC) is an association of nonprofit and state-based student loan providers. These public purpose organizations are dedicated to the single purpose of making college more affordable. Check their page on Financial Literacy Resources.
  • The Texas Guaranteed Student Loan Corporation offers Adventures in Education, a comprehensive site with dedicated pages for students of all ages.
  • ED FUND and UCLA developed the ED WISE® Online Financial Planning Guide in a collaborative effort to provide a useful loan management tool for students.
  • Sallie Mae offers Be Debt Savy, a comprehensive website designed to help families plan for paying for college.
  • National Student Loan Program offers a new Financial Literacy Online program.
  • America's Debt Help Organization Debt ManagementRead more information on students and debt.
  • The U.S. Department of Education (ED) just released a new online interactive loan counseling tool to help students manage their debt and keep financial aid professionals in the loop.
  • The Financial Awareness Counseling Tool aims to provide students with basic financial management information, such as their current loan debt and estimates of debt levels when interest accrues after graduation.

The tool provides students with five interactive tutorials on topics including managing a budget and avoiding default. Students can also access their individual loan history and receive personalized feedback.

The new tool is part of the Obama Administration's initiative to promote financial literacy and consumer disclosure for students and families.

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    Why Is Your "Credit Score" Important?

    Credit Issues

    Lenders normally look at your past history in repaying consumer debt in determining the interest rate that they will charge on a private student loan. Major lenders often utilize your "FICO" score.

    Credit bureau scores are often called “FICO scores” because most credit bureau scores used in the U.S. are produced from software developed by Fair Isaac and Company. FICO scores are provided to lenders by the major credit reporting agencies.

    FICO scores provide the best guide to future risk based solely on credit report data. The higher the credit score, the lower the risk.

    Most lenders will offer a lower interest rate to students who have a "credit-worthy" individual willing to co-sign their loan application. An individual who co-signs your loan application will be held legally responsible if you fail to repay your student loan.

    Credit Card Act of 2009

    Most provisions in the Credit CARD Act of 2009 are effective February 22, 2010. The reform legislation, signed by President Obama in May 2009, place new restrictions on credit card fees and interest rate policies.


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    What’s My Score and Why is it Important?

    It would be difficult to find an adult who hasn’t applied or used a credit card sometime in his or her life, or hasn’t applied for a loan to buy a car or a mortgage for a home.

    In all of these instances, the lender will look at the applicant’s credit score. The credit history is used to determine the likelihood of the loan being repaid.

    A low credit score could prevent one from attaining that auto loan or prompt the lender to charge a higher interest rate. The better one’s credit score is the easier and less expensive it is for them to obtain credit.

    The primary factors used to calculate someone’s credit score is his or her credit payment history, current debts, length of credit history, credit type mix and frequency of applications for new credit. Because the scoring systems are based on different criteria, which are weighted differently, the three major credit bureaus in the United States may issue differing scores for an individual, even though the scores are based on the same credit report information.

    So what is a good score? Scores range between 350 (extremely high risk) and 850 (extremely low risk). Being aware of a credit score is half the battle. People should review their credit scores annually. You’re entitled to one free every year. Mistakes might be found on the report, which could negatively impact one’s credit score. Some mistakes could result from having a common name, a junior or senior in the family or identity theft. A report could also reveal a medical collection that the individual did not even know about. Despite paying a medical bill, a clerical error could lead to inaccurate posting.

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    Understanding Your FICO Score

    You may have heard that your credit score is important, but what is a FICO score? FICO is short for Fair Isaac and Co. The Fair Isaac Company developed custom software back in the 1980s that helped other companies determine a credit risk based on a number derived from a person’s credit history. This number soon became a standard that was adopted by the three main credit bureaus: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. The FICO score ranges between 300 and 850.

    Credit Score vs. Credit Report

    A credit score and a credit report are two different things, although the credit score ultimately depends on your credit report. Your credit report is simply a detailed account of your credit history. The report will contain information such as:

    • Bankruptcy
    • Credit inquiries
    • Credit utilization
    • Current credit accounts
    • Payment history

    Your credit report itself does not have a FICO number. It is simply a report of your current and past credit history. Most credit history will only go back seven years, although a bankruptcy will stay on your report for ten years. You’re entitled to a free credit report each year and it’s always a good idea to check it annually to make sure it’s correct. Here’s how to get your free credit report.

    A FICO credit score is based off of your credit history, but it’s not actually a part of your credit report. Instead, the three major credit bureaus will calculate your FICO based on your credit history they have on file. This means you can have up to three different FICO scores at one time. Your FICO score does not come with your credit report and it isn’t something you’re entitled to annually. You may have to pay a fee to actually receive your score.

    What Makes Up a Credit Score

    A credit score takes into account a lot of different information from your credit report, but it’s not all treated equally. Some aspects of your credit history are more important than others and will weigh more heavily on your overall score. Your FICO score is essentially made up of the following:

    • Payment History – 35%
    • Total Amounts Owed – 30%
    • Length of Credit History – 15%
    • New Credit – 10%
    • Type of Credit in Use – 10%

    As you can see, the bulk of your credit score comes from your payment history and how much debt you actually have. Those two items account for 65% of your score. So, if you’re really looking to improve your credit score, these are the areas you’ll want to tackle first.

    Why Your FICO Credit Score is Important

    We’ve determined what makes up a credit score, but why is it so important? Your credit score will follow you for your entire life and if you are ever trying to borrow money, the lender is going to look at your credit score to determine whether or not to lend money to you. Need to buy a car? They will check your credit score. Looking for a mortgage? You can bet they are checking your credit score. In fact, even some employers are checking credit scores when hiring to possibly determine who would make a good employee.

    Not only does your credit score determine whether or not you’ll receive financing, it also determines how much it will cost you to borrow that money. People with higher credit scores are deemed to be less of a risk and therefore will typically receive the lowest interest rates. Those with lower scores are viewed as more of a risk so the bank will offset that risk by lending you money at a higher interest rate. And when you’re talking about larger loans such as buying a vehicle or a home, just an extra interest rate point could add up to thousands, and even tens of thousands of dollars wasted on interest.

    Improving Your Score

    What happens if you have made some mistakes in the past and now your credit score is low? Don’t worry. The good news is that your credit score is constantly updating, so every month as you begin to make improvements to your credit history, your score will be sure to follow. But keep in mind that items on your report will stay there for seven years, so it will take some time for serious negative marks to eventually disappear completely.

    Thankfully, there are a number of things you can do to improve your credit score. Start with the basics and make sure you’re making all of your payments on time. Remember, payment history is the single greatest factor in your credit score. If you make payments over time, you’ll slowly start to raise that score. Second, reduce your total amount of debt. The second largest impact on your score is how much debt you have, so if you can put a dent in your overall debt you’ll also begin to make some serious headway. But don’t stop there.

    • Pay down your credit cards.
    • Don’t use your whole credit line every month.
    • Is your credit report correctly reporting your credit limits for your cards? If not, you can call your credit card issuer and ask them to update the list. You can also challenge the limits with the credit bureaus.
    • Don’t use credit card issuers who don’t report your credit limit.
    • Ask a trusted friend or family member to add you to one of their old cards as an authorized user.
    • Ask a creditor for forgiveness.
    • Get student loan payments current.
    • Dispute old negatives.
    • Get a collection agency to agree to remove a debt from your report if you pay it.
    • Dispute with original creditor.
    • Target “easy” errors — negatives that truly are not yours.



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