I took out a credit card, opened a new cell phone account, got some financial aid, and then took a bunch of student loans out all at once a few months after turning 20. I had never paid a bill before in my life. I grew up with my mom, just not paying her bills. I had no idea how finances worked. I maxed out the credit card almost immediately ($300). A few months later I stopped paying the phone bill and opted to sign up for a prepaid plan. I (somehow) made it through school, and of course following my trend of scumbag moves I decided I should never make a single loan payment (because fuck it right?)
Last year I got my shit together. I paid off my 2 old collections accounts (didnt need to, they were falling off shortly, I just felt like I needed to stop being scuzzy) and more importantly I finally called my student loan company and talked to them. I’d been terrified of doing this for literally 5 years. they put me on a repayment program (offered payments of $5 a month, I paid more) after 9 months of making my payments on time I was no longer in default. my loans transferred to a new company. Most importantly though, my late payment history was deleted. all of the old trade lines through the Dept. of ed. were deleted and replaced with new paid as agreed trade lines. My credit shot up 70 points.
TL;DR pay your student loans, it’ll fix your credit.