The Student Financial Services office offers self-guided tools as well as speaker-led presentations to help students prepare for life after higher education and success through retirement. These resources give an in-depth view of how to be financially successful and begin thinking about retirement planning. Topics include: student loan repayment options, when and how to use debt and saving for retirement accounts and emergency funds.
All UCM students may register for an account at cashcourse.org, free of charge. Once logged in, you can find articles, financial tools, expert advice and participate in interactive assignments.
It is a user-friendly, free service to create personalized budgets, receive unusual account charge alerts and retrieve your credit score. Register at mint today to use these tools and learn how to improve your budgeting skills.
In an effort to increase financial awareness, SFS has adopted a presentation called CashCourse. During this one hour session, where students present to other students, we help individuals with the beginning stages of basic personal financial management. These are important life skills that are often neglected in the home and classroom. Some of the topics discussed include: identifying where your money comes from, where your money goes, different types of expenses, personal financial decisions, and keys to success with managing your money. These presentations are on a set schedule for freshman in the AE 1400 class during the fall semester but can also be set up Monday through Friday to fit a particular group’s needs and time schedule. Sessions are available to UCM groups and organizations as well as the community (high schools, middle schools, and Whiteman AFB).
Paying bills in full and on time, reducing your use of credit and limiting the number of credit cards you hold are only a few factors that may help your credit rating. Actions that may reduce your credit score should be avoided whenever possible.
Qualifying for financial assistance from the Federal Stafford (student) Loan program is never impacted by your credit history. However, if you find you need to borrow private educational loan funds to help you with your educational and living expenses, or if your parent wishes to be considered for a Federal PLUS Loan, you (or your parent) normally cannot have an adverse credit history.
A copy of a credit report may be obtained (for a fee) at any time from one or more of the three national reporting agencies: Experian, TransUnion, and/or Equifax. A credit report containing information from all three agencies may be obtained (at no charge) once per year at Annual Credit Report or by calling 877-FACT-ACT.
Always review your credit report carefully for errors and incorrect information. If you identify a mistake, follow the instructions included in the report. If you have a negative credit report, do not utilize the services of any company or person claiming to be able to 'fix' your credit profile. They won't be able to do so. All information, positive and negative, remains a part of your credit history.
Your credit history does, however, continue to evolve over time. As you use credit responsibly and pay your bills on time, you'll build a positive credit history. In fact, your bill-paying pattern during the most recent 18-24 months is typically much more important than your financial activity of 3-5 years ago.
If you're having difficulty paying your bills, the non-profit National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) has member agencies that can assist you in establishing a budget and negotiating a repayment plan with your creditors.
If you want to avoid the temptation of assuming additional debt, you have the option to visit OptOutPreescreen.com. Opting out means you no longer wish to receive notification of preapproval credit or insurance offers. You can learn more about your options on OptOutPreescreen's frequently asked questions page.
Data theft occurs when someone obtains key pieces of your personally identifying information, such as your name, address, birthday, phone numbers or Social Security Number (SSN). Identity theft occurs when that information is used for any fraudulent or other unlawful purpose. The unlawful acquisition of personal identifying information does not necessarily mean that identity theft has occurred. This distinction is important when considering any response you might wish to make to the disclosure of your SSN.
Order your free credit report
...Then review your credit report
Once you have received a copy of your credit report, look for any accounts that you don't recognize, especially accounts opened recently. Look at the inquiries or requests section for names of creditors from whom you haven't requested credit.
Some inquiries, labeled something like "promotional inquiries" are for unsolicited offers of credit, mostly from companies with whom you do business. Don't be concerned about those inquiries as a sign of fraud. (Note: If you place a fraud alert (See Section 'What is a Fraud Alert and How do I Place One?') on your account, you are automatically removed from lists to receive unsolicited pre-approved and pre-screened credit and insurance offers. You can also stop those offers by visiting https://www.optoutprescreen.com or calling 1-888-5OPTOUT)
Look in the personal information section for addresses where you have never lived. Any of these things might be indications of fraud. Also be on the alert for other possible signs of identity theft, such as calls from creditors or debt collectors about bills that you don't recognize, or unusual charges on your credit card bills.
If you find items you don't understand on your report, call the credit bureau at the number given on the report. Credit bureau staff will review your report with you. If the information can't be explained, then you will need to call the creditors involved and report the crime to your local police or sheriff's office.
If you find errors in your credit report, informing the issuing credit bureau at the phone number located on the report to have the information removed or corrected.
If you determine that someone actually has used your personal information for an illegal purpose, you should considering taking the following steps:
File a police report with UCM's Public Safety Office or the agency to which UCM Public Safety may refer you.
Contact the Social Security Administration if you believe your Social Security Number has been used illegally and call the SSA Fraud Hotline. You should also periodically contact the SSA at 1-800-772-1213 to verify the accuracy of the earnings reported on your SSN, and you may request a copy of your Social Security Statement. Additionally, these other SSA resources are available on the Internet:
Identity Theft and Your Social Security Number (SSA Pub. No. 05-10064)
Ask for a copy of "Take Charge: What to do if Your Identity is Stolen". This is a free comprehensive consumer guide to help you guard against and recover from identity theft. You may also write to the FTC at:
Identity Theft Clearinghouse
Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20580
These Internet sites provide information on steps you can take to protect your credit and identity.
Department of Justice
The Department of Justice site describes what can happen if you are a victim of data theft or identity fraud. It provides steps for action, tips for reducing your risk of fraud, and phone numbers, addresses, and links to credit bureaus and other governmental agencies you may need to contact.
Department of Education
You can find information about identity theft specific to students. Use the search bar and look for “identity theft” for more information.
Are you having difficulty managing your monthly student loan payments? Consolidating your Federal Student Loan obligations is a good way to make repayment easier and often can lower your monthly payment(s). In addition, you'll be responsible for just one payment each month (instead of a separate payment for each of your loans) and you may also be able to 'lock in' a lower interest rate.
On the other hand, your new consolidation loan interest rate may be higher, which can result in a greater total amount of interest required to be paid over the life of the loan, especially if you select a longer repayment schedule. However, the benefit of having a lower single monthly payment may outweigh the higher total finance charges.
It's extremely important to understand that you, and only you, are responsible for repaying the federal loan funds you've borrowed. This is true even if you fail to graduate with a degree, have difficulty locating employment, or if you're not satisfied with your educational experience. If you do not make the required payments on your loan obligation according to the terms of the legal promissory note you signed, and do not apply for a forbearance or a deferment, your loans can go into default, which has serious consequences. In addition, federal student loans are not dischargeable through bankruptcy.
If you default on a federal loan...
Defaulting on a federal student loan is very serious. Here's how to prevent default from occurring...
After you graduate or otherwise leave the University of Central Missouri, you may be willing (but not financially able) to make the monthly payments on your Federal Student Loans. If you do not qualify for a federal loan deferment, applying and being approved for a forbearance will permit you to postpone your monthly payments (or make lower payments) for a limited period of time.
Unlike a deferment, you normally must pay the interest due each month during any forbearance period that is approved for you. However, you can choose to capitalize the interest and have it added to the total amount outstanding on the loan when you're once again able to make regular monthly payments.Visit Studentaid.gov for detailed information about applying for federal loan forbearance.
A past or current bankruptcy normally has no impact on a student's future eligibility for federal grant, loan, and work assistance. In addition, federal grant or loan aid cannot be denied to a student solely due to a bankruptcy (as long as the student is not currently in default on a previously received federal loan). This is because a student's credit history is never checked as part of determining his/her eligibility for federal student assistance. Further, if a student's federal loan is discharged in bankruptcy after (s)he defaults, the loan is no longer considered to be in default (and no further payments are required).
Federal student loans, however, are rarely discharged in bankruptcy and only if the student petitions (and can prove) that repayment will cause an extreme financial hardship. Also, federal student loans have no statute of limitations. Delinquent loan payments and loan defaults can impact a student's credit rating for a minimum of 7 years.
On the other hand, a parent who applies for Federal PLUS Loan funds is usually denied if (s)he has an adverse credit history, one definition of which is having had debts discharged in bankruptcy within the past 5 years.
A student with an adverse credit history due to a bankruptcy will usually be denied private educational loan funds by most lending organizations. However, the student may be allowed to receive a private educational loan if (s)he has a credit-worthy co-signer. A parent's bankruptcy or adverse credit history normally has no impact on a student's eligibility for private loans. Also, the U.S. Bankruptcy Code states that if certain private loans can be proven to be education-related (similar to the treatment of federal student loans) these private loans are not required to be discharged during a bankruptcy filing.Visit FinAid for additional information about the relationship between bankruptcy and financial aid.
Visit our "Admitted Student Information" page to access information and links if you and/or your parent plans to accept a federal loan to pay towards educational costs while attending UCM.
Responsible borrowing tip: Borrow only what you need, taking excess loan money means more to repay later.