By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — About 50 local college students learned a lesson outside the classroom that might be more valuable than anything they learn inside.

Building and keeping good credit may not be at the top of mind for college students, but it should be, says Ken Benton, senior consumer specialist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.

Benton told students at a financial literacy seminar last week to do all they can to pay bills on time.

“If you default on your student loan, if you miss a payment, you’re late on a payment, that’s going to negatively impact your credit history.”

And that has consequences. A bad credit score will cause lenders to charge you higher interest rates for mortgages or car loans. And for students who think they wan wipe out a student loan through bankruptcy, Benton says think again.

“The courts have interpreted that very narrowly. So the standard is very high to get a guaranteed student loan discharged in bankruptcy.”

Step number one to building good credit, he says, is getting a free credit report from each of the three national credit bureaus.

For more information, go to philadelphiafed.org.