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7 Things Students and Parents Should Do Before College Starts

Stocks in this article: C STI

Also, keep in mind that your savings don't have to come from a part-time job. "Whenever you get money, even a birthday gift, take at least 10% and put it in your savings account," Behnam says.

5. Sit down and talk as a family. "For many kids, going away to college may be their first taste of financial independence, so it's important to sit down together as a family and set some ground rules well before you're dropping them off at their dorm room for the first time," Descano says.

During the discussion, walk through how much your child will need for living expenses each month, and who will be responsible for making payments, she suggests.


"For example, will you deposit a certain amount of money into their account each month, and they'll be responsible for budgeting? Or will you pay for some of their costs directly?" All of this needs to be discussed before school starts, and it's a good idea to have a financial check-in after the first few months, Descano says.

6. Understand how to view and pay your credit cards online. Although most students are incredibly tech savvy, it's important that they understand how to view and pay their credit cards securely online, says Joe Sicchitano, senior vice president and head of financial planning at SunTrust (STI - Get Report).

"Students should understand how to check and pay balances online, review their statements and budget so they do not max out their card," Sicchitano says. "Setting a personal monthly cap can serve as a smart safeguard."


Credit cards, when used responsibly, can be one of the best tools for teaching effective money management, Sicchitano says. "For example, online credit card statements provide a detailed list of purchases each month, making it easy to maintain good financial records and assess spending habits."

Parents should encourage their children to log on to pay their credit cards and view statements at least once a month.

7. Get a job if you can. "Working during the summer to help prepare financially for college means more than earning money for teens," says Lauren Arndt, development manager for Junior Achievement of Central Florida.

Being employed also shows students the need for responsibility, time management and money management. "As these young adults are building their savings account, they are also building their confidence and learning the skills needed to succeed upon graduation in today's global economy and workforce," Arndt says.

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