As high school seniors wrap up their last year of school at home and look ahead to college, they should also be thinking about their financial futures as they embark on this new season in life. Now is a good time to begin having the all-important financial talks with high school seniors so that future issues with money can be averted. The mountain of information out there can be overwhelming, but here are five important tips to keep in mind as this journey begins:
KNOW THE BILL: Before specific plans can begin to take shape, it is imperative to ensure that all of the financial obligations for the year and beyond are understood. Be sure to account for tuition, room and board, books, transportation, and other miscellaneous expenses so that no surprise costs sneak up. Setting up a system to track spending will go a long way in ensuring that the student keeps on budget.
OPEN NECESSARY ACCOUNTS PRIOR TO ARRIVAL ON CAMPUS: All of the necessary financial accounts should be determined and opened prior to arriving on campus. Now is the time to decide if the student will have access to a personal checking account, credit cards, etc. Students under the age of 21 will likely need a parent to co-sign on most accounts so it is wise to start the process now.
WEIGH ALL OPTIONS: There are many options available to students when it comes to housing and meal plans. It is crucial to research all of the school’s options and pick the one that makes the most sense for the individual student. Carefully examining the financial implications for each feature will ensure that costly mistakes are not made.
DETERMINE DISCRETIONARY SPENDING GUIDELINES: Discretionary spending is most often the biggest headache between parents and students. Determine ahead of time the monthly amount that is acceptable for both parties to avoid potential conflicts.
PLAN FOR THE FUTURE: At some point, the college experience will be over, so it is important to keep the future in mind when determining a college budget. Be careful not to overcommit to spending obligations that could lead to crippling debt down the road. Financially-savvy students set goals now to ensure a healthier financial future.