Before Your Student Leaves for College: Help build money management skills


New college students have a lot to learn about life on their own. Simultaneously, they are facing many challenges as they adjust to new lifestyles and campus patterns of living and learning. Many college freshmen—indeed, some transfer students as well, will deal with day-to-day costs they never before experienced.

What a Parent Can Do

The majority of freshmen have had minimal experience dealing with money. Some students have a problem managing their money wisely and can end up spending more money than they have and then borrowing unnecessarily.

Before Your Student Leaves for College: Help Build Money Management Skills

    * Teach your student how to maintain a budget.
    * If your student is getting a checking account for the first time, show them how to balance their checkbook and record their transactions to prevent bouncing  checks.
    * Explain the need to build a good credit report by paying bills on time and avoiding debt.
    * Teach your student to save for emergency needs and how to use credit wisely.
    * Help your student to ask questions and learn to do things for themselves.

Credit Is Important: Teach about Credit Cards

Being away from home for the first time, a student may not realize how small purchases can add up. Because of this, some students go into debt. We encourage you to talk to your student about credit cards and the effect that credit card debt can have on them.

Many students have misconceptions about credit cards. When credit cards are used wisely, they can be beneficial, especially in emergencies like unexpected car repairs. But many college students don’t realize the added costs if the bills are not paid immediately. Mail solicitation is rampant, so help your student learn to understand credit terms.

Living Away from Home: Cash Stress

Managing money can be a major source of stress for students. It’s hard to suddenly live on a set budget if you have never done so before. The more informed students are, the less likely they are to overspend. Help your students set guidelines. If you are providing them with financial assistance, we recommend providing the necessary amount to cover expenses one month at a time. If financial aid and earnings will be the major source of their living expenses, help them learn to plan ahead for the entire semester.

As the academic year progresses, your student may feel strapped for cash. Banks are aggressively marketing loans by calling them “financial aid.” However, the terms of these loans, especially over time, may be an undue burden when your student graduates. It is better to consider alternatives other than additional borrowing.

Common-sense Information about Avoiding Debt

    * Avoid use of credit cards.
    * Learn to live within a budget.
    * Talk to a financial aid advisor before you take out a private loan.

Be Smart: File a FAFSA

We encourage all students, regardless of income, to submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Even students who do not qualify for needbased aid are usually eligible for federal loans that have student-friendly terms and low interest rates. This loan program provides long-term, low-interest loans, called Stafford loans, borrowed directly from the U.S. Department of Education. Therefore, the lender is the U. S. government, not a bank or loan company, and there is no preferred lender list.

We encourage parents to support their students by expecting them to learn how to handle the details of daily life as part of their overall education.

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