Feb 13 2008

Financial vulnerability and responsibility in college students

This is a guest post from Tisha Kulak. Tisha is a writer for www.creditorweb.com, where she writes about student credit cards and responsible credit card use. Want to submit a guest post? E-mail me.

There are plenty of first-time experiences that happen to young adults who have set off for college.

One of the most important responsibilities they will take on is their personal finances. Some students start out having to pay their own way through school. The student assumes responsibility of all loans, school supplies and spending money. They will find jobs, full or part time, and quickly incorporate working into their study life.

But many college students still reside under the wings of their parents, even though they no longer live under the same roof. Family members often support students because they do not want the student to be distracted by working during the initial adjustment phase. While these may seem like two totally different worlds, there is a common denominator between both types of students. Each must learn the responsibilities of taking care of their own personal finances.  

Parents or other responsible adults should help students learn about how to budget all aspects of their personal finances. The subject should not be avoided. Parents must relinquish some control over certain financial aspects if they hope to nurture a financially independent adult.  Lessons in spending control are so important to ensure a young adult grows into a financially responsible person when campus life ends.

If the student is sent away with a credit card in hand, they should be taught how and why they need to always use credit wisely. Credit should be a topic of discussion before they even walk into the dorm. Parents cannot rely on schools to teach the reality of daily financial responsibility.  

The college years for many are where the credit foundation begins. Being late on any bills, missing credit card payments, even falling behind on tuition are all going to affect a student’s life for years to come.

Students who have been given the responsibilities of paying some bills and using credit cards for emergencies need to understand how credit works. Guidelines should be set between parents and the young adults as to who is paying for what and what individuals expect from one another.  

Many companies cater to college students by offering promotional deals that sound too good to be true. If it sounds too good, it usually is too good. A free t-shirt is probably the farthest thing from free there is. Students should be forewarned not to fall for anything until they have done plenty of research and discussed the ideas with a responsible, older adult who can help weigh the options. This is most important because students may not even realize that when it comes to filling out applications, they are supplying someone with highly personal information and possibly credit card numbers.

College is supposed to be some of the best years one has in a lifetime. If students do not learn a strong lesson of financial responsibility at this crucial time in their lives, chances are they will struggle with finances and debt for years to come.  


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One Response to “Financial vulnerability and responsibility in college students”

  1. I completely agree — college students MUST learn the ins and outs of budgeting and credit cards before taking off for college. I graduated college in May and I can’t tell you how many friends were never taught about personal finance, and struggled with credit card debt and budgeting throughout college and after. Many parents feel uncomfortable taking about money, but it’s a must-do. While there is legislation brewing to eliminate the problem, many credit card companies target college students on campus by giving them freebies (a shirt, gym bag, slice of pizza) in exchange for signing up for a credit card — usually with an outrageous APR. So many students fall for it and pay for it big-time later on. Hopefully all of these great personal finance blogs will help reach out to some of them!

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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife to Shane and mother to Jonathan (7), Vivienne (5) and Amelia (2) . I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

I hope I can inspire and encourage you to improve your situation. See disclosure.

I'm adopting a much slower-paced posting schedule, and treating this as a hobby blog now.

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