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Last Minute Money Talks Before Sending Your Student Off to College

Our favorite last minute money lessons for your college freshman before leaving for school shared by financial aid advisor Jodi Okun
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As graduation gets closer, parents are wondering if they’ve done everything they can to prepare their children to be out in the world on their own, at college. I always encourage my CFAA Families to talk frankly about money, budgeting, and smart borrowing throughout the application process. But as the graduation date arrives quickly, I recommend talking about last minute money lessons to help with their future finances. It’s important to enjoy this joyous occasion and celebrate your student. But, setting a firm foundation for their money is equally important before dropping them off at their dorm. 

Here’s a few final money lessons for your (almost) college freshman: 

Always prepare for the rainy day: 

In the last few years, many of us have learned that rainy days happen more than we’d ever hope or wish. Encourage your student to find a balance between using money and saving some for a future day when things might not be so easy. College students might feel like taking any cash graduation gifts or job signing bonuses and blowing it all on a fancy car or what they feel is a well-deserved trip after graduation. But strongly urge them to put some of this money away for future needs. 

Carefully control credit: 

Credit cards are a wonderful tool. But, if we aren’t careful, the balances can grow – and interest rates can always change. Paying off well-used credit cards can really hack away at your monthly budget. Educate your college student about credit, interest rates, and credit scores. Teach them not to borrow to finance a lifestyle that might actually be out of reach. It’s important to live within your means. 

Know you’ll repay what you borrow: 

As of now, student borrowers are going to owe the money they borrow. Although there’s always a chance of being forgiven (as we’ve seen in the last few years), there are no guarantees. If you have to borrow, borrow under the assumption that you will be expected to pay off those loans. Remind  your student to head to the financial aid office, look online, or contact lenders directly to find out exactly how much money was borrowed, when payments start, what the monthly payment amount will be, and if there are any income-based repayment plans. Make career, living and spending decisions based on the information that is available right now. 

Build those budget skills: 

College students often learn to live on the thinnest of budgets, and that is not a bad skill to take into life! The first few years after graduation are often ones of upheaval and financial uncertainty. Your student may live with you, move in with others, get married, change jobs, or decide to pursue further education. Someone who knows how to live within a budget will easily be able to adapt to all life’s financial challenges.

Congratulations again, to the soon-to-be Class of 2024! You’ve worked so hard and with a smart money management, you’ll have even brighter futures! 

More about Jodi and College Financial Aid Advisors

Jodi is a FAFSA financial advisor who helps with the financial aid process to help families of college students maximize their financial aid. From completing the FAFSA and completing the CSS Profile to reviewing the SAR, responding to requests for verification, comparing financial aid offers and understanding student loan options, Jodi is a fantastic resource when it comes to student financial aid. Schedule a 15 Minute Power Chat to learn more about finding ways to pay for college.

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