We know you are working hard to make sure your academic transcript is in good shape, as well as your cumulative grade point average. Another transcript and GPA that needs to be in good shape is your financial transcript (credit report) and your financial GPA (credit score). A good credit history and score are very important to your financial future.
I'm not even sure what a credit report looks like. How do I get a copy?
First of all, it's important to understand that a credit reporting agency (credit bureau) is basically a repository of information. Just like the Registrar's Office records your grades as reported by faculty, a credit bureau simply records financial data. You may have heard a credit report referred to as a credit record, credit file or credit profile. They all mean the same thing. The 3 national credit bureaus are:
It is a good idea to order your report to ensure the accuracy of the information being reported. Since you own the data, you want it to be correct. If there are errors on it, contact the credit bureau and they will file a dispute with the creditor. The federal government established a website to obtain a FREE copy of your credit report annually. You may want to obtain a report from each credit bureau since creditors or financial institutions may not report to all 3 credit bureaus. Note: Other sites may offer a free report, but you may be required to sign up for other services.
Who is looking at my credit report?
You might be surprised. Basically, any entity with a permissible financial purpose can look at it, such as banks, credit card companies, service providers, insurance companies, and landlords. Potential employers may request to look at your credit report as part of the job application process. A credit report will show your name, address(es), employer(s), types of accounts, payment status and inquiries. Payment history, especially negative information, can stay on the report for up to 10 years. A credit report will not show age, sex, race, income, or checking/savings balances.
How is a credit score calculated?
The FICO score is the most commonly used scoring model and ranges from 350-850. There are many factors that contribute to the calculation of your credit score. The two factors that receive the highest weight in the calculation are your payment history and your debt to limit ratio. It is critical that you pay your bills on time and that you keep your credit card balances low. Although the credit report is free, there is a fee for the credit score, generally less than $10. A credit score is a snapshot in time and may look different at each credit bureau.
Recommendations by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to get and keep a good credit score.
Common Myths about credit reporting.
Information and resources about credit reports and scores.