Student Loans

Conversations with Your College Student about Money

Sending your child to college is a time that can be both joyful and nerve-wracking at the same time.  With all the extras beyond tuition which may come with a child’s college attendance, sometimes boundaries may be set due to either limitations on parental income or simply expected behavior from a college student.  Below are some suggestions for financial matters that parents should discuss with their college-bound children.

These topics will give you a checklist for the common financial topics that you need to discuss in advance.  By having maintaining a dialog about financial matters, you help them prepare for the time when they are done with college and becoming independent adults.  College is a time where children assume more responsibility for their financial actions.

  1. Checking Accounts and Debit Cards.  If your college student wants their own account without your name attached, advise that it is up to them to set it up and get a debit card.  That being said, having a shared account at a bank that is in both the location you and they live is a good idea.
  2. Emergency Credit Cards.  If you allow your college student to have a credit card for emergencies, make sure to write down a list of the emergencies for which you will allow your student to make charges.
  3. Expenses you expect them to cover.  Gas, insurance, eating out, dates, etc. – if there is some luxury you are willing to cover, make sure that your student goes into college with a good understanding of what expenses they are personally responsible for.
  4. Expenses you absolutely refuse to cover.  Some tough love is okay, so clearly communicate what lifestyles you will not support.
  5. How much their college is costing you.  Many college students may need a little shock to understand just how expensive college can be, even beyond books and tuition and room and board, particularly if the parents are footing the bill.  Sometimes understanding personal responsibility may come out of gratitude.
  6. What behavior you expect.  It is okay for parents to continue to expect particular behavior from the children they financially support.  Sometimes tying certain financial support to grades, class attendance, or even certain moral standards may not be a bad idea.

College expenses can get out of hand quickly and easily, particularly with children who are given or believe they have a blank check from their parents to do whatever they want.  Take time to think what you want your child to learn from you while they are at college, and always clearly communicate any expectations.