As a recent Carrington graduate, you know how important a good education and hard work are to your future, but are you aware of how important financial knowledge and responsibility are to your future success?
A lack of financial awareness can lead to financial challenges, including:
- Becoming delinquent or defaulting on a student loan leading to wage garnishment
- Decrease in your Credit Score
- Trouble getting a home loan or renting an apartment
- Difficulty buying or leasing a car
- Obtaining employment
Now that you’ve graduated college, you will become increasingly aware of how your financial decisions will affect your future and long-term economic security. Here are a few tips to help you get ahead of the curve, and not fall behind financially:
- As a Carrington graduate you have access to one of the best resources for financial advice, tools and resources available through the Carrington financial awareness program – My Financial Future (MFF). MFF has partnered with iGrad to bring you online information on financial topics, such as budgeting, credit management, insurance, investing and most importantly student loan repayment. iGrad also features video tutorials, written articles and the iGrad Town hall, where you can ask financial experts questions unique to your situation and get answers. You can log on to this complimentary service here; it’s available to you as a Carrington Alumni.
- Budgeting is a skill we all need; it serves as the foundation for everything else. Without the ability to track your finances, you’re more likely to overspend. There are a number of budgeting tools out there, like Mint. Mint lets you connect all of your accounts in one place to track and categorize your spending, pay bills, check your balances and double-check your budget before you buy. You can also set up reminders for upcoming payments and receive low account balance notifications. Search for the budgeting app that best fits your life and can assist you towards a path to financial success.
- Federal student loans are a long term commitment; understanding the repayment process for your federal student loans can go a long way toward building a solid financial foundation. Federal student loans are real loans, just like car loans or mortgages. You must repay a student loan even if your financial circumstances become difficult and they will not be canceled because you are not employed, or did not complete your education. However, there are several payment plans available to you to help make the payment more affordable, check out the loan repayment calculators on the Carrington iGrad site or on the Federal Student Aid site to see which payment plans you qualify for.
- In 2012 the U.S. Department of Education released an interactive loan counseling tool to provide students with financial management basics, including information about current loan debt and estimates for student loan repayment after graduation. You can access the resource, known as the Financial Awareness Counseling Tool, at https://studentloans.gov/myDirectLoan/index.action.
- Use credit wisely. Think in terms of ‘wants & needs’ before making a purchase. Impulsive shopping can lead to unmanageable debt. Remember, credit isn’t free; always try to pay more than the minimum monthly payment. Keep in mind that any amount charged on a credit card must be factored into your budget and repaid, otherwise the debt can spiral out of control. Remember to check your credit annually for any mistakes or inaccuracies which can negatively impact your credit. You can receive a free credit report (once a year) at www.annualcreditreport.com, while you can monitor your estimated credit score at www.creditkarma.com. Both of these sites offer your personal credit information completely free of charge, however to receive your actual credit score you’ll have to pay a fee.
- Use the SMART approach in setting your financial goals. Be realistic with your financial goals and ensure they align with your budget. For example in order to be able to save for a car or house, set the date by when you will pay off your student loans or a credit card. Even if your goal seems a long way off, set short term goals to follow your progress along the way. This will help you to stay on track.
Remember, we are always here to help. Even though you’re no longer enrolled, that doesn’t mean that we’re not here for you. Once a Carrington student, always a Carrington Alumni. The Student Finance Department at your Carrington campus has the resources and expertise to help you with any student loan repayment questions. To speak with a Carrington Student Finance Advisor, simply call 1-877-206-2106.