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Understanding Your Credit Report

Sounds Silly But It Works!

Put your credit on "ice" -- literally.  Stop using your credit card.  If you are tempted, get radical!  Put water in the bottom of a small container, freeze, add your card and more water and freeze.  Your card cannot be read without some serious time with a hairdryer!  Sounds silly, but if this is what it takes to stop using that credit card for frivilous purchases, then try it!

Are You Credit Ready?

CONFIRM YOU ARE CREDIT READY!  Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loans and Alternative loans require that a student have a good credit record.  Students with poor credit may not be able to secure the loans necessary to completely finance their education.  Obtain a free copy of your credit report NOW in order to have time to correct any problems. Visit (the federally mandated free site) where you can pull from any or all of the three major reporting agencies:  Equifax, Experian or Trans Union.

Remember, any time you are denied credit, you are entitled to a free copy of your credit report from that agency. 

Things to look for on your credit report are:  

  • Inaccuracies – Clear up any inaccuracies that may appear on your credit report. Report any fraud or identity theft.
  • Too many accounts (or accounts with high credit limits) – Cancel any credit cards not in use.  Do not simply cut up the card, but call the creditor and cancel it. Hold your oldest major credit card to preserve your credit history, but reduce the credit limit if possible.
  • Delinquent accounts – Pay on time.  It will take 18-24 months of paying on time to restore your credit history. However, payment of past due accounts with written proof of payment may allow you to successfully appeal a credit denial.

Your credit report does not contain a credit score.  The reporting agencies will charge you extra for that information.  If you wish to know something about your score, visit for a free average score.  You can also get helpful tips on how to improve your credit, as well as a credit simulator to see how making more payments or borrowing more impacts that score.  Do ignore any ads suggesting you try a credit or insurance product.  Use this as a tool, not a shopping site. 

Just as you should have an annual medical checkup, check your credit report(s) at least once annually!