Discuss these 5 financial topics with your child before they head off to college to set them up for future financial success.

The time has come: you're sending your child off to college. This huge life change can bring forth many different emotions and challenges for both you and your child. One thing to focus on before you drop them off and say a possibly teary goodbye: how to financially prepare them. College is an exciting but sometimes overwhelming experience; set your child off on the right foot by going over these 5 financial topics.  

How to Financially Prepare Students Going off to College

June 2, 2017

Discuss these 5 financial topics with your child before they head off to college to set them up for future financial success.

The time has come: your son or daughter is going to college. This huge life change can bring forth many different emotions and challenges for both you and your child. Before you drop them off, ask yourself this: 'Is my child financially prepared for college?'

College is an exciting, but sometimes overwhelming experience. Get them ready with these 5 financial topics.

1. Set up any necessary accounts
Your child will probably need at least a savings and checking account before they start school. Students have lots of fees and payments they need to make, and even if you're the one supplying the money, it will be a lot easier on them if it is from their own account. If they are heading off to a college far away, research what financial institutions are close by to make sure they have a local branch accessible. 

2. Decide if they need a credit card
It may be a smart idea to set your child up with a credit card when they start college. It can help them build credit early, which will be helpful down the road when they are applying for jobs, looking for housing, buying a home or needing to make a large purchase. If you do decide they need a credit card, make sure to instill smart credit habits in them before signing them up for a card. 

See more about this topic with our article Should You Get Your Child a Credit Card? 

3. Teach them about money 
You still have time to go over some money management tools and healthy money habits before they head out into the big world on their own. Review all of the tools inside online banking, set a budget with FinanceWorks, and talk to them about money management and why they need to save. Reinforce why it's important to treat credit with respect and to stay within their budget. Having these discussions now can help save them from making a silly mistake later. 

4. Start an emergency fund 
As a parting gift, start your child an emergency fund. Open them a separate savings account, deposit however much you would like and explain to your child why an emergency fund is so important. If you have any real-life examples of when your emergency fund helped save you from a financial disaster, share it! They will appreciate your honesty and the lesson will probably resonate more. 

5. Decide on financial obligations 
Is your child going to work through college? Will they need to pay for their expenses? Who will be paying for tuition and fees? What about room and board? Have a serious and firm discussion with your child about who will pay for what. All families are different and there are no right or wrong answers on how to split the financial obligations of college. It might also change from semester to semester or year to year, depending on your child's course load, work hours and both of your financial situations. 

Astonished by the high cost of college? Read our article Ways to Cut the Cost of College

Want to learn more about how to prepare your child financially for their departure to college? Join us for our Finances for College Students Lunch & Learn! Our experts will discuss various financial matters college students need to be aware of.  Invite your soon-to-be or current college student and RSVP here to save your seat!  

After you've discussed the financial topics above, it's time to pack up the last moving box and get ready to send your child off to college! They'll head there financially prepared and well aware of how to treat their finances, and you can relax a bit knowing that you've done your part to prepare them. 

Sending a child to college soon?

They will soon be transitioning into independence, while dealing with the costs of tuition, paying bills and developing credit. Help them learn how to handle it all at the Finances for College Students Lunch & Learn. 


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