You see it all the time on movies and TV! People go shopping and pull out their nice sparkly credit card to pay for the charge, but what exactly is it? Credit cards are actually a staple in adult finances. Read below for more on what credit cards are and why they matter!
Q: What is a credit card?
During a transaction, a credit card will work the same as a debit card. Both cards have a 16-digit number, a security code, and an expiration date; however, the mechanics behind them are different.
While debit cards withdraw your own funds from the bank, credit cards draw from a loan. This “loan” is called your credit line. Banks will approve you for a certain loan amount and this loan is the maximum the bank is giving you to spend. If your credit line is $500, then you can only use $500. If your credit line is $1000, then you can only use $1000.
Because the money is not yours, you have to pay the money back month-to-month. Most banks have a listed minimum payment amount. For example, you may have used $300 of your $1000 credit line, and you’re required to make at least a $35 payment each month. The minimum payments vary from bank to bank.
Notably, credit cards charge you an interest rate. Because the bank is allowing you to use their money, they will charge you interest to make more money back. If your interest rate is 10%, then if you use $100, you have to pay the bank back $110 ($100 + $10 for interest).
There are different types of credit cards. Some are specifically meant for college students! As you grow older, you will have options to cards that are specific to travel, rewards shopping, and more.
Q: Why should I get a credit card?
Importantly, credit cards can help build and increase your credit score! A credit card is a perfect way to show lenders that you are a reliable consumer through on-time payments and credit usage.
If you pay your credit card bill every month on time, your credit score will go up! If you pay more than the minimum payment each month, your credit score will also go up!
Additionally, using only a portion of your credit limit is extremely beneficial! Financial experts recommend using only 30% of your credit limit. This indicates to other lenders that although you have access to more money, you do not need to use it all. So if you have a $1000 credit limit, it is recommended that you only use a constant $300. If you use more than 30%, your credit score may decrease, but if you manage to keep it at 30% or lower, your credit score will go up!
Q: Who can get a credit card?
There are a few requirements for a credit card. You must:
- Be at least 18 years old. At this age, you must have a reliable source of income (your financial aid counts);
- Have a social security number. If you are a DACA recipient, you can use the SSN assigned to you to apply;
Applications will then ask for other basic information such as your residence, birthdate, and more. Note that some banks may require that you have a co-signer. A co-signer is someone who becomes responsible for your debt if you cannot pay it back. If you miss your credit card payments, then the co-signer begins to be charged and becomes liable for the debt.
After submitting an application, you will know if you got approved or not within a few business days. Some cards let you know if you got approved instantly!
Q: How do I get a credit card?
The first step is choosing a credit card to apply to. Because we are not financial experts, we cannot recommend specific cards; however, there is plenty of information available online. Some cards are specifically designed for college students. While your credit limit may be lower, it will have more advantages for college students such as easy approval or no yearly charges.
Google, “best credit cards for college students,” and choose according to what you think is best! Remember that this is a huge financial decision and can impact you negatively if you get rejected. First, make sure that you can prove you have access to financial aid. A work-study or part-time job will always be a plus! If you have not worked for a few months anywhere, you should wait until you have a longer history of income. Credit cards are a safer option for people who have been working for at least a year or two.
Follow the links below for more resources on credit cards! Please remember that we at the Let’s Go team are not financial experts. More individualized advice is required by experts.
Setting Goals Being SMART
It’s the beginning of the new year! After 2020 feeling like an eternity, we all carry with us a sense of optimism that 2021 will bring positive change. Although there are external forces beyond our control, as students we can and should still continue planning for the future and setting goals.
You can set goals for anything! Your goals may regard academics, health, or other personal matters. Regardless of what your goals are, however, you can use a SMART approach to achieve them. Read below for tips on how to set and complete your objectives!
SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely. Thinking through each of these encourages us to think about the aspects of our goals.
Be as specific as possible with your goal. What exactly do you want to be done? The clearer your objective is, the easier it will be to identify what you need to do.
Let’s say my goal is to be “be healthier,” this year. Health encompasses many aspects! With a goal like this, it may be hard to know where to begin. If I narrow my goal to sleeping more, it may seem more plausible than just “being healthier.”
Keep track of your goal. Find a way to measure or quantify your progress so you know whether or not you are moving forward. Remember that everyone and every goal will vary! How much I can achieve and how much I should achieve will depend on my personal capacity and target.
Going back to sleeping more as a goal, I can start by assessing where I am currently at. If I find that I only sleep 5 hours a night, what are the measurable steps I can take towards sleeping more. Can I start sleeping 6 hours next week, 7 hours the week after that, and then 8 hours after that? My timeline may end up differing, but I know I will have achieved my goal when I finally consistently sleep 8 hours a night.
Be realistic with what can be achieved. Is your goal something that is plausible given your constraints and resources? Of course, always shoot for the stars but take small and possible steps while you get there.
If I have poor sleeping habits, it may very well be impossible to change the way I sleep in a matter of a few days. I simply cannot go from sleeping 5 hours to a full 8 hours in a span of two days. I need to assess and change habits, get rid of obstacles, and more; therefore, I should step back and think about what actually can be done.
Make sure your goal matters to you. Are you trying to reach your goal because others want you to, or because you feel pressured to do so? As long as you deem your goal important, it is.
When speaking to a friend, I may find that they don’t think of sleeping more as a goal. Remember, it is your life, and you can do with your time what you think is worthwhile.
Set a timeline. Think about how long you would like to take to achieve your goal. Some timelines may be more flexible than others. Personal goals can be met whenever you want, but other goals like academics may be more restrictive. Whatever it is, make sure you are aware of the time you have available.
Being SMART helps you think of various aspects of your goals. As you think about goals this year and beyond, use these questions as guidance:
- What exactly do I want?
- How will I know I am achieving it?
- Is my goal within my reach?
- Does this goal matter to me?
- When do I want or need this goal accomplished?
Welcome to Community College! Community college is a great option for students who are looking to save money, want to explore different career options, hoping to raise their GPA to transfer, etc. In addition, community colleges offer affordable summer and winter courses that can help you speed up your GE requirements if you already attend a UC or CSU! In California, there are over 116 community colleges you can apply to.
According to the CCC Chancellor’s office:
- Nearly half of students earning a bachelor’s degree from a University of California campus in science, technology, engineering and mathematics transferred from a California community college.
- Twenty-nine percent of University of California graduates and 51% of California State University graduates started at a community college.
- Students earning a degree or certificate from a California community college nearly double their earnings within three years.
If these stats are something that you want to be a part of, great, keep following along!
How to Apply
- The first thing you want to do when applying to community college is visit https://www.cccapply.org/en/apply. This helpful source lets you easily go down the list of 116 community colleges in California.
- After selecting the college that interests you the most, (visit our college list if you’re still searching for your just right college), you will be redirected to the college’s personal application.
- While every application is different, a majority of applications will consist of:
- Your Full Name
- Mailing Address
- Social Security (SSN)
- Driver’s License Number
- High School Transcripts
- Latest English and Math Classes Completed
- After the application is finished, you then complete your FAFSA or Dream Act Application and connect the school you are applying to using their school code.
- U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, or eligible non-citizens with a valid Social Security number
- California AB540 eligible students
If you need support applying for FAFSA, find our guide here
- After finishing your application, your college will most likely request for you to attend orientation, take a math/ english placement test (if you were not able to send in your high school transcripts), and meet with an academic counselor to plan out your courses.
- Finally, you start registering for classes and wait for the semester to begin. You are now a college student!
Here are some important dates:
FAFSA: Opens October 1st- Closes June 30th, 2020
Class Registration: Varies per Campus (check on their personal website)
Other Important Sites to pay for Community College:
CCC California Promise Grant
During our Let’s Go to College LA launch, we found out that one of the biggest concerns college students had during this online transition was “how do we meet other people?” While prior to this semester, all it took was a “Do you have a pencil I can borrow?” to spark up a conversation with your classmate, that interaction is not very convenient now in an online setting. Meeting other people is important in order to establish connections, build study groups, and create long-term friendships. We have gathered some ways you can connect with others as we continue online learning!
- Facebook Groups:
- Yes Facebook is still useful! Did you know some college campuses have Facebook pages and Facebook groups where students sell textbooks, recommend professors and classes, and share different events going on at campus?
- Wildfire is similar to Facebook but on a separate app. In your bio, you can share your major, your graduation year,and your residence hall. This is for folks looking for a more close-knit social network of their campus!
- Fellow introverts, use Zoom private message to your advantage! Respectfully reach out to your classmates asking if they want to form a study group for that class. You can share notes, discuss class topics, and fill each other in if an absence occurs! You can also ask in the chat box if anyone wants to start a Group Me or if one already exists!
- Clubs are still meeting during COVID, preferably check their Instagram pages to follow up on their meeting dates and times. You can also look up the different clubs your school offers and their contact info on your college’s club directory page!
- Campus Events:
- Campus events are still happening online as well! Apart from clubs hosting activities, campus resources like your Women’s Center, LGBTQ+ center, Black Resource Center, etc hold events too! Explore the different resources you have on campus and connect with them to attend their events and meet others.
Application season is here again! Below are several Cal State Apply updates as well as some helpful reminders to assist students.
The priority application period for the Fall 2021 semester opens on Thursday, October 1, 2020, and closes on Friday, December 4, 2020. We encourage you to apply early.
Validation is Here! Students are highly encouraged to find their high school, so they do not need to manually enter their high school coursework, complete a-g matching, and ensure validation is properly applied. Students can now search for their high school using the CEEB code.
Cal State Apply Submission Review! The application has been updated with a Submission Review page. The page provides key academic and application information that students may need to review. Please review this information carefully and correct any issues prior to submission.
SAT and ACT Test Scores
- The CSU has temporarily suspended the use of SAT and ACT test scores for admission purposes. To find more information on the admission requirements for Fall 2021 please visit the First-time Freshman Guidance.
- If SAT and ACT test scores are submitted, the CSU will use scores for placement in English and mathematics courses. Please visit the CSU Student Success site for additional information on placement. If a student has not taken a test, they can opt-out of the Standardized Tests section of Cal State Apply.
Cal State Apply Helpful Links
All Cal State Apply resources have been updated and posted to the Counselor Resource site under First-time Freshman Section. Here are some helpful ones, visit this site for more. There are a lot of resources available for counselors, but some are quite helpful for students.
CSU Video and Campus Virtual Tour Links
For a new CSU overview video and virtual tours of all 23 campuses go here.
Reminders & Clarifications
College-Dual Enrollment Coursework – If you have taken college classes while in high school on your own or through a formal dual enrollment program, you should specify on the application that you are a graduating high school senior with college credit. Any college courses taken that will appear on a college transcript should be reported on the College Coursework page. For more information please see the College-Dual Enrollment Coursework Guidance.
Help students not miss the deadline to apply for the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP). Some but not all campuses have a deadline of December 4, 2020, for EOP applicants. Even if you have submitted their application to the CSU, you can still go back into Cal State Apply to indicate you are interested in applying for EOP if you haven’t missed the campus’s deadline. To check the deadline for the campus(es), go to EOP Admission by Term (also available as a PDF). Also, at least one of the recommendations must be from someone who knows your academic history, such as a teacher or counselor. The other recommendation can be from an individual who can comment about your potential to succeed in college but cannot be the student or a family member.
DACA, undocumented or AB540 students should enter “None” as their citizenship status. Under “Residency,” they should select “California” as their state of residency if they consider California their home.
There have been changes in impaction on both campuses and degree programs for the 2021-22 academic year. Impaction means that there are more qualified applicants for a program or campus than can be accommodated. For the most current information, visit the Impaction center on Calstate.edu.
This resource was compiled with information from the CSU Office of the Chancellor