Transition Chat: Finances
When students leave the comforts of their own homes and move on to the independence of college, one of the topics that frequently falls through the cracks — according to many students — is financial responsibility. Often university is the first time a student has ever had to create and live by a budget, think about financial planning, and be aware of the implications of their spending. This topic is one that could occupy a far greater space within the panoply of college transition, but for now, we encourage all seniors and their parents to consider this question:
What will you do about managing your money while in college?
Here are several additional questions and points to consider:
What is provided by the school and what is included in your meal plan? How many meals a week will be part of your pan and how many extra meals will you be paying for?
Will you have a budget and/or allowance?
Where will “pocket money” come from? What expenses will come from pocket money? What will parents provide?
Who will pay for transportation to and from school? Textbooks and school supplies? Holidays if not coming home?
Do you know how to use an ATM card? Do you know what to do with a paper check?
Alumni Advice: A college student recently shared, “I know how to take money OUT of the ATM. How do I deposit money INTO the bank? What do I do with a check?”
How will you fill up your cash card/ATM for meals, laundry, books, etc?
Will you get an on- or off-campus job? Given your nationality, are you allowed to get a job in your college host country?
Will you get a job over the summers to earn your own money?
Will you use a bank local to your home or will you open an account in your host area/country? In whose name will the account be? Will parents have access to it? Is there online banking? When will you set up these accounts?
Alumni Advice: Recent alums strongly recommend a local bank in the host country! Get there early, they say, and open up your own account! (Be sure to check with your university about any special deals or recommendations about which banks to use. They often have special arrangements with local banks, particularly the ones that provide the ATMs on campus!)
Will you have access to a credit card? Will you get it at home or in the host area/country?
Will parents monitor bank statements?
How will you track expenses? Consider an app such as Mint!
Do you know how to use Venmo and PayPal?
Keep in mind that you will be friends with individuals from across the socioeconomic spectrum. You may have friends who struggle to find money to eat every meal. Do not expect all students to be able to fly around the world during spring break. Be considerate talking about finances around others.
Also, keep in mind that not everyone will have eaten in a fancy restaurant. Not everyone has experience flying in planes.
How will you divide up paying joint bills with others? Who puts their name down on the utility bill or the rental lease, if you live off campus?
If you are on financial aid, consider the following:
Work study: US schools will typically include work-study as part of a financial aid package, a part that you can choose to decline or accept.
Will you pay against the principal of a loan while in college?
This piece is part of a series on “transitioning to college.” We encourage graduating seniors and their parents or guardians to engage in discussion on a weekly basis about these topics. If you have feedback or additional ideas or perspectives to share, please let us know so we can incorporate your thoughts into revisions of our posts.