For many high school seniors, now is the time to focus on college applications. Before they know it, spring will arrive, and they will (hopefully) begin to receive letters of acceptance from their chosen schools.
At the same time, they’ll also have to sit down and consider their options for financing higher education. This is one of the greatest challenges that high school graduates face today, as the cost of college increases every year. According to the College Board, the average cost of annual in-state tuition and fees for the 2015-2016 school year was $9,410 at public schools and $32,405 at private institutions. These costs can increase even further for students who live on campus and pay for room and board. While many generous scholarships exist that can help to defray these costs, most students take out loans to pay for their education.
Up until now, most parents of high school seniors probably haven’t given much thought to their children’s credit scores. Typically, the government does not take credit scores into account when issuing federal student loans, though successful applicants cannot have serious delinquencies or bankruptcies on their records. However, borrowers who turn to the private market for education financing must be prepared to have their credit scores taken into account. For most students, this should not be a big hurdle, as they tend to have short credit histories containing few negatives. But everything changes if a student’s credit has been compromised at some point in his or her life.
Victim of identity theft — without ever knowing it
It’s easy for parents to forget that they are not the only ones in the family who have to worry about identity theft. One troubling trend that has been growing in recent years is that of ID theft among young people.
Stealing a child’s identity isn’t much different than stealing an adult’s. Thieves can use personal information — such as names, addresses and Social Security Numbers — to create false applications for credit cards or loans. The difference is that while many adults monitor their credit reports for instances that may indicate fraud, parents often don’t think to do this for their children. In theory, this means that a thief could compromise a child’s identity and take advantage of it for years without anyone being the wiser.
It’s bad enough for young people to leave high school and head out into the world for the first time, only to find out that their credit is in tatters through no fault of their own. It’s worse when poor credit makes it difficult for them to obtain the loans they need to further their education.
Don’t let this happen to your children. Be vigilant now, so they will not have to face the prospect of identity theft when they turn 18. An identity theft protection service like Identity Guard can monitor your credit and alert you to signs that may be indicative of fraud — affecting either you or your children.