It’s easy to get excited about heading off to college, but it’s not always so easy to get excited about taking out student loans. Let’s face it: Comparing interest rates and reading over loan disclosures will never be as much fun as pizza and parties!
However, one student lender recently announced that it will provide a helpful benefit to eligible borrowers: Sallie Mae will now provide customers with free quarterly access to their FICO scores. Ready to hear more? Take a look at the details below.
Free FICO scores from Sallie Mae: The details
If you’re a student borrower, you’re probably interested in the details behind this new free FICO score initiative. According to a press statement, students with a Sallie Mae Smart Option student loan disbursed in the 2014-2015 school year will automatically receive the following:
- A free quarterly FICO score
- Personalized factors that are influencing the score
- Online credit score education
- Information about what the FICO score is and how it’s calculated
- Frequently asked questions (and answers) about credit
To find out why Sallie Mae is now offering these benefits, the Nerds reached out to Abigail Harper, a spokesperson for the company. “By giving our customers access to their FICO Scores, they will be better informed and empowered to make responsible financial decisions,” Harper said.
Where else can you see your FICO score for free?
It’s definitely a step in the right direction for Sallie Mae to provide free FICO scores to student borrowers; after all, the more details consumers have about their finances, the better.
Sallie Mae is hardly the only source for a free FICO score. As of July 2014, the following credit card issuers also provide free FICO scores to their customers:
You can also get your FICO score from Fair Isaac Corp. or from any of the three major credit bureaus, but access isn’t free. You’ll have to pay a fee to order a copy of your score.
Nerd note: These days, there are a number of sites that provide you with a free credit score, but this isn’t the same as a FICO score. These websites use their own proprietary credit scoring models, which serve as a decent barometer of how your credit is looking.
However, most lenders use your true-blue FICO score when they’re deciding whether or not to extend you credit. This is why being given a free FICO score by Sallie Mae and the credit card issuers listed above is so exciting – it’s the tool most widely used by banks to judge your creditworthiness.
Don’t miss this opportunity to take control of your score!
If you’re an eligible student borrower with Sallie Mae, be sure to take advantage of this opportunity to take control of your score. As a young adult, you’re in a great position to start building good credit – this will make it easier for you to get a credit card, a good rate on your car insurance and even a mortgage someday. Consider achieving and maintaining a high credit score just as important as achieving and maintaining a high GPA!
If you’re not sure where to get started, here are the Nerds’ top tips for building credit as a student:
- Pay your bills on time; this is the most important thing you can do to create a healthy score.
- Consider getting a credit card as soon as you can, but don’t charge more than you can afford to pay off in one month.
- Only take out loans that you actually need; applying for too much credit in a short time can hurt your score.
- Pay attention to your quarterly credit score updates; it’s especially helpful to track your score’s progress over time.
- If you see a dip in your score, look back at your recent financial behaviors for a possible cause (like spending too much on your credit card or paying a bill late).
- Pull your credit report at least once per year and check it for accuracy; this is good habit to get into when you’re young!
The takeaway: Sallie Mae is now offering free quarterly FICO scores to eligible student borrowers. If you’re one of them, be sure to use this opportunity to your advantage!
Student loan image via Shutterstock