Once you and your child have developed a plan to pay for college, it's a good idea to discuss how he or she will pay for everyday expenses.
In general, your child should plan on between $200 and $400 a month in spending money for living expenses and school supplies. If your child lives off campus, his or her expenses may be higher.
Stress the importance of maintaining a budget. Help your child create a plan to handle everyday expenses:
- Develop a budget prior to the beginning of school.
- Determine who will supply the spending money and how frequently it will be sent. Discuss what will happen if your child runs short of money.
- Establish a bank account in the town where your child will be studying. Find one that has a good relationship with the school and with students. If your student has a checking account for the first time, teach him or her how to set up and maintain a checkbook.
- Remind your child to keep the checkbook and the ATM card in a safe place.
- Record the bank's routing code and the student's account number in case you need to wire money.
Students and Credit Cards
Credit cards are now a fact of life for most adults. The same is true for college students who often receive a credit card regardless of their credit history (or lack of one). Some colleges have credit counselors to help those students who have fallen deeply into debt.
If you allow your student to have and use a credit card, keep these thoughts in mind:
- Make sure your child understands how to use the credit card in relation to his or her budget.
- Emphasize that proper use of a credit card can help your child establish a good credit history.
- Remind your child that over-charges and late or missed payments can cause severe damage to your child's credit rating.