More than just academic learning, college represents a time in young adults’ lives when they begin forming financial habits that carry them through life.
By Casey Galindo, Wells Fargo Education Financial Services
If you had a college-bound student, your summer months were most likely spent less swimming at the local pool, at cookouts with family and friends, or on family road trips and more on everything involved in getting your child sent off to college, complete with everything he or she would need: computers, bedding, school supplies and the list goes on. If only you could have earned frequent flyer points for the endless trips to IKEA and Wal-Mart, you could fly the whole family to Hawaii for the holidays.
Now that it’s September, and you’re certain your child has many of the creature comforts of home, it’s time to turn your attention to the vital task of helping your student start their adult life on firm financial footing with tools and good personal finance habits that will serve them well throughout their lives. As a parent and someone who has worked in the banking industry for more than many years, I offer three steps that can help your family get financially ready for college:
- Paying for College: There are many options for paying for college, including tuition payment plans, scholarships, grants, federal and private student loans. Before you apply for a student loan, you should consider other financial means you plan on using to cover costs. It’s important to understand the features of student loans and consider a loan option that best fits your child’s personal and academic needs. Wells Fargo’s new Get College Ready interactive website www.WellsFargo.com/GetCollegeReady can help you learn about options. Anytime you consider taking out a loan, have a plan for how you’ll pay it off.
- Managing Money: For many young adults, going away to college is the first time they will manage a budget or use other financial products such as checking and saving accounts, debit cards, credit cards or insurance. Families can help their students make sure they have the right accounts and services as well as an understanding for how to manage them responsibly. For example, with Wells Fargo’s My Money Map, consumers of all ages can easily track spending, set budgeting goals and monitor savings.
- Building Credit: Helping students understand the responsible use of credit and how it works can set them for more financial freedom and choices down the road. Wells Fargo’s The Path to Good Credit can help students understand credit basics and how, with smart planning, they can get on the right path for financial success.
As your child begins to pave the road of his or her higher education career, you will begin a new life chapter with him or her. By taking the time to build a thoughtful financial plan, you’ll be able to spend more time with your family and truly make this first college semester comfortable, memorable, and root of a healthy financial lifestyle.