We’ve all heard the term thrown around, but what exactly is a credit score? It seems like a random number assigned to you by the universe. Some adults have a “good” score while others have a “bad” score. Regardless of its ambiguity now, however, it is a significant number that can affect your finances as you begin your journey into adulthood. Read more on credit scores below!
Q: What is a credit score?
A credit score is a number that represents your “creditworthiness”. The number signals to lenders whether they should let you borrow money or not. It can also determine what interest rate lenders choose to charge you. The higher your credit score, the more lending opportunities you’ll have.
A credit score ranges from 300 to 850. Typically, a “very poor,” score is one between 300 and 579, a “fair,” score is one between 580 and 669, a “good,” score is between 670 and 739, a “very good,” score is between 740 and 799, and an “exceptional,” score is between 800 and 850.
Q: How do I get a credit score?
Your credit score is determined by a mixture of factors, each with varying significance. There are 5 main factors that determine your score:
- Payment History – Payment history refers to the record you have of paying other debts on time or not. The more you pay your bills when they’re due, the better this portion of your score will be.
- Amounts Owed – This doesn’t necessarily regard your overall debt, but the rate at which you use your credit. Lenders want to see that you don’t use large portions of their loan all at the same time. For example, if a credit card gives you $1000, they don’t want to see you using $800 of it.
- Length of Credit History – Length of credit history refers to how long you have been borrowing money from lenders. Typically, the longer you’ve been borrowing money, the better your score will get. This portion of your school will get better as you grow older!
- Credit Mix – This refers to the type of debts you have. There are different kinds of loans such as student loans, car loans, home loans, credit cards and retail accounts. Your credit score typically increases when there is variety in your loans. This does not mean that you must have all kinds of loans for a good score, but it signals how you’re choosing to spend your money.
- New Credit – This refers to how often you’re asking lenders to borrow money. Lenders do not want to see that you are constantly asking for loans. Usually, you should wait at least six months between opening loans. For example, if you took out a credit card with your bank in January, it is best to wait until June until you go to an Electronics store for a card.
For some people, some factors weigh more than others. For example, the first time you take out a loan, your credit score might be more dependent on the amount you owe rather than your payment history since you don’t have a “history,” just yet.
Q: Why is a credit score important?
A credit score can determine whether you get a loan or not, and what interest rate you have to pay your loans back at. Say that you want to get a car in the near future but don’t have all the money to buy it from a car dealership. You decide to buy the car with credit but the car dealership rejects you the loan because of your “bad” credit score. It may work the same for when you want to buy a home, or even finance an expensive cell phone.
Additionally, a credit score can be viewed by certain actors who you give permission to. For example, when you are applying for an apartment, the landlord may want to know your credit score. For the landlord, this might determine whether you’ll pay your rent on time or not. If your credit score is “bad,” they can reject you.
Overall, the score has a significant impact in the world of finance.
Q: Who gets a credit score?
Anyone in the United States is given a credit score determined by a set of identifying factors. Although social security number is a common identifier for lenders, they can also use your address, birth date, phone number, and more to determine who you are. In other words, you do not have to be documented to receive a credit score.
Q: When do I get a credit score?
Your credit score starts when you open your first lending account. If you have any student loans, you already have a credit score, even if you’ve been unaware of it.
How to Build Credit
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Living in an off-campus apartment is a big adult move! There are lots of opportunities for growth and learning; a skill that is really mastered is knowing how to manage your living expenses. Living on your off-campus requires that you be extra cognizant of your costs. Read below for some helpful tips!
- Know all the fees involved
Rental spaces often require other payments besides rent. Some extra costs include, but are not limited to:
- Application fees. You may be charged for applying to space.
- Security deposits. At the beginning of your lease, rental spaces will often ask that you give about one month’s rent worth of money to them in addition to your first month’s rent.
- Parking fees. If you own a vehicle, your landlord may sometimes rent out a parking space for an additional fee. Do not always assume that parking is included in your rent price.
- Plan for furniture and household items
Some rental spaces may come furnished already, but most do not. Before you move, plan costs for items that are necessary. You may need to provide yourself with a bed, desk, dining table, kitchen tools, and more.
2. Be aware of your rental contract length
Not all leases are one year long. Some contracts are only six months long, while others may last up to 14 months. Verify how long your lease will be; this way, you will know how long you’ll have to pay for rent.
3. Keep track of utilities
Your rental contract will specify what utilities the space does and does not provide. In some cases, your space may provide all utilities to you. In other cases, your space may provide none of the utilities, leaving you to pay for services such as water, gas, trash, and electricity. Be aware of what you will be responsible for paying.
4. Track your food expenses
First, make sure that you are aware of CalFresh, and how the program can help you pay for groceries. If you do not qualify for CalFresh, however, know that you will need to plan for enough healthy meals.
5. Familiarize yourself with the commute
Know how much money you will be wasting on transportation. If you have to drive to campus, have an idea of how much money your gas will be. If you will ride public transportation, remember to include the fares in your budgeting.
Of course, seeing your costs listed out may be terrifying! Remember to make the best financial decision for you. Compare your costs to on-campus housing. Make sure that you know you are ready to take on the challenge. We believe in you!
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides nutrition benefits to supplement the food budget to families in need so they could purchase healthy foods for their familiy.
COVID-19 Temporary Update
The Consolidated Appropriations Act 2021, temporarily expands SNAP eligibility to include students enrolled at least part-time in an institution of higher education, who either:
- Are eligible to participate in state or federally financed work-study during the regular school year, as determined by the institution of higher education, or
- Have an expected family contribution (EFC) of $0 in the current academic year
Beginning on January 16, 2021, students who meet one of the two new exceptions may receive SNAP if they meet all other SNAP eligibility. The new, temporary exemptions will be in effect until 30 days after the COVID-19 public health emergency is lifted.
The new, temporary exemptions, expands SNAP eligibility to students who are eligible to participate in work-study during the regular school year, without the requirement that they actually participate.
The new, temporary exemptions do not impact any other student exemptions. All current student eligibility exemptions remain in effect. For more information about the new, temporary exemptions can be found here. To find out how to apply, or for other questions regarding your SNAP eligibility, contact your local SNAP office.
In California, the California Student Aid Commission will send all students with a zero dollar expected family contribution an informing letter about this new exception to the CalFresh student rule.
Are students eligible for SNAP?
Students attending college more than half-time are not eligible for SNAP unless they meet certain specific exemptions and meet all other SNAP eligibility requirements. Beginning on January 16, 2021, students who meet one of the two new exceptions may receive SNAP if they meet all other financial and non-financial SNAP eligibility criteria.
Who counts as a student for SNAP purposes?
Individuals are considered students if they are enrolled at least part-time in an institution of higher education. Individuals enrolled less than half-time may be SNAP-eligible if they meet all other SNAP eligibility requirements.
What is considered an institution of higher education?
- A regular curriculum at a college or university degree program; or
- A business, technical, trade, or vocational school that normally requires a high school diploma or equivalent (GED)
What is considered at least half-time enrollment?
Enrollment status is determined by the institution of higher learning and should be verified by the institution.
What are the student exemptions?
If you are a student you may be able to get SNAP benefits if you meet eligibility requirements and meet one of the exemptions listed here or one of the new COVID-19 exemptions listed in this article.
What if I have more questions?
For additional information about SNAP in your state, to file an application, or to get more information about eligibility rules, contact your local SNAP office.
Apply for CalFresh Today!
Food insecurity has heightened due to the pandemic and it is getting harder to get access to healthy meals. Luckily, there are programs and resources out there, it is only a matter of finding out about these resources and sharing them with our peers. FoodFinder is here to help you!
FoodFinder is a resource that allows you to find food pantries near you! FoodFinder is a food pantry locator that shows you where you can find free food assistance in your neighborhood. All you need to do is enter your zip code to the map and pick the pin that is closest to you! Tap the pin you’d like to see where the food pantry is located and what their schedule is like.
Luckily, financial aid covers most tuition and fees. Other expenses that arise from our college education are our personal expenses. Financial aid does not cover these, even though some of these expenses are related to college. Personal expenses include personal items such as laundry, going out to a movie, or eating out. Expenses vary from one student to the next based on their particular needs and lifestyle.
To learn more about personal expenses, download this guide Personal Expenses Explained. Guide provided by DecidED
Basic Needs: Student Navigator Network
The Student Navigator Network is a referral service amidst COVID-19 that links students with financial, academic, and personal resources. This partnership between Swipe up Hunger and Rise employs and trains student navigators to help their peers and diminish the stigma of asking for help and assistance. Student Navigators help their peers apply for emergency financial assistance, find and access local and communal support, navigate public benefits, and receive timely information on policies, programs, and services.
Free or reduced-cost services like medical care, food, job training and more can be found around your area! Food or reduced-cost services are services that are free or are at a reduced cost for people with low-income. These services are also available for people with undocumented status.
- Aunt Bertha is one of the largest and most used online social care networks for individuals looking to connect to Community Based Organizations (CBO’s) in the United States. To get started, input your zip code and Aunt Bertha will connect you with CBO’s near you.
- The Employment Development Department (EDD) of the State of California provides to keep employers, employees, and job seekers competitive. This website provides additional resources that may help you.
Reduced cost or free internet access:
Information on low-cost computers:
Northern California: in English and Spanish
Southern California: in English and Spanish
Databases that include services for undocumented communities:
Food is a basic human right, yet prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, over 36% of college students faced food insecurity in the United States. According to Feeding America, food insecurity is “a federal measure of a household’s ability to provide enough food for every person in the household to have an active, healthy life.” Food insecurity is such a big issue for students because it can affect your test scores, concentration, energy, academic standing, and lowers your chances of graduating. In addition, food insecurity affects the most vulnerable students ex. students who receive financial aid, students who are parents/ caretakers, students with disabilities, LGBTQ+ students, first-generation students, BIPOC, and more.
Unfortunately, students who are facing food insecurity are not accessing all the public benefits they could. The food insecurity among college students can get worse because families are losing income, medical bills are piling up, and folks are being forced to tap-in to their savings. However there are college, local, state and federal resources for you as a student.
Below is a list of food banks/ pantries that are accessible to you and your family at no cost, because no student should go upon not knowing when their next meal will be.
The CalFresh Program is for people with low-income who meet federal income eligibility rules. CalFresh provides you with a budget to put healthy and nutritious food on the table.
CalFresh is a state program that awards you up to $193 a month for groceries. *Benefit amount has increased to the pandemic. Up to $234 for one individual.
If you are a student, you can get CalFresh if you:
- Work at least 20hrs/wk, on average, OR
- Are approved for state or federal work-study money and anticipate working during the term, OR
- Are a full-time student with a child under age 12
- For further requirements, click here.
- More special rules for students and exceptions click here.
**The Consolidated Appropriations Act 2021 has temporarily expanded SNAP eligibility to more students, including students
- enrolled at least part-time in an institution of higher education
- students eligible for work-study, without the requirement that they actually participate
- have an expected family contribution (EFC) of $0 in the current academic year
- To read more about the changes, click here.
To begin signing up for CalFresh, select your county and get started. You will need to submit proof of your situation.
- Documents that are usually required to get CalFresh:
- Copy of ID
- Proof of any income
- Proof of immigration status (for non-citizens)
- Proof of student status (for college students)
- What if you can’t get proof?
- Tell the caseworker during the interview. CalFresh generally accepts a sworn statement as last resort.
Apply now online at https://www.getcalfresh.org/
CSU CalFresh Information: https://www2.calstate.edu/impact-of-the-csu/student-success/basic-needs-initiative/Pages/calfresh-and-the-csu.aspx#:~:text=Student%20Eligibility%20for%20CalFresh,eligible%20to%20receive%20CalFresh%20benefits.