Auto Loans for College Students
In New Hampshire, there’s really no way around it; having a car is essential to everyday life. With the exception of urban areas such as Manchester or Nashua, there’s little-to-no public transportation available.
If you’re a recent college graduate, the situation becomes even more imperative- gone are the days when everything you need is only a short walk across campus. You may be able to survive by hitching a ride with your family or friends, but that's a temporary solution. Once you land your first professional job, you'll need your own reliable source of transportation.
But how can a recent college student go about obtaining a car loan if you're already swamped with student loans and/or credit card debt?
You're not alone. Here are some facts to consider:
- As of 2012, student loan debt surpassed credit card debt with a total of over $956 billion. (Federal Reserve Bank of New York)
- Over 90% of college students have at least one credit card and graduating seniors have an average of $14K in credit card debt. (Forbes)
- In 2011, students graduating from Granite State colleges and universities had the highest average student loan debt load in the nation at $32.4K compared to the national average of $26.6K. (Nashua Telegraph, the Project Student Debt)
These facts may seem daunting at first glance. But with the right financial institution, you can devise a plan for a successful future.
Some key advice for College graduates seeking a car loan:
1) Build Good Credit
If you can document your monthly income it’s time to start thinking about applying for a credit card under your name. Building good credit is not only a great habit, but also necessary to apply for loans, mortgages, auto insurance, rental applications, cell phone plans and even some jobs. Start by using your card for small, reoccurring expenses that you can pay off in a few months on a regular basis, such as groceries or your Netflix account. It's not a good idea to live off your credit cards, but in the beginning, to build a track record and not spend more than you should, using the card for regular expenses you already know you can afford helps to build a solid payment history. Think of building good credit as a journey; most financial institutions need to see six months or longer of good credit history before they decide to hand you a loan. It takes longer than a month or two, but if you stick to it, you'll get there. Lastly, the quality of your credit score will depend on your ability to make payments on time, so don’t be late!
Quick tip: Did you know that by law you are entitled to three copies of your credit report each year, for free? You can receive the reports all at once, or spread them throughout the year to track whether your credit is improving. Visit www.annualcreditreport.com for a free credit report. This is the official website to obtain your free reports.
2) Co-sign with a Parent/Guardian
If you’re still working on your credit history but need a vehicle now, another option would be to get a parent or guardian to co-sign the loan for your new or new-to-you car. Many financial institutions ask for a co-signer when a borrower has a limited credit history. The co-signer usually has established a good credit history and has a solid credit score. Many parents co-sign for their children’s cars in order to help them achieve financial independence quicker.If they're willing, this is a great way to get yourself started, but make certain you're the Primary Borrower so the payment history helps you build credit history. It’s also important to note that it's your responsibility to make payments on the car loan on time. If you fail to do so, responsibility is then be placed on the co-signer (parents or guardians). This could result in damaging your co-signer's good credit standing. They are taking a risk by signing with you, so talk with your parent or guardian about the possibility of co-signing a car loan before making your final decision and make sure you both understand the level of responsibility.
3) Seek Financial Advice
Regardless of how you obtain a car loan, it’s always important to seek professional advice. Important financial factors like your maximum debt-to-income ratio will determine the terms and amount of car loan available to you. At Bellwether Community Credit Union, our maximum debt to income ratio for auto loans is usually 40%. Meaning total debt (including housing, credit cards, other loans including student loan, and the new auto loan) can't exceed 40% of gross income (before taxes) on a monthly basis. Discussing your options with a professional will help point you in the right direction. Stop by one of our branches or call us at 1-866-996-9828 and we'll be happy to chat with you, no appointment needed. You can also submit one of our online applications available on our website.
To learn more about our auto/truck loans and apply online, visit our page.
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