Talk to Your College-bound Student about Handling Money
August 8, 2003
August 8, 2003

URBANA--Your college-bound student may have aced all his high-school math courses, but before he begins to manage money away from home for the first time, he'll probably need your guidance.

Many college students acquire their first credit card during their first year on campus, and the typical student carries a balance of $2,300, with 6 percent carrying balances higher than $7,000, said Angela Lyons, an expert in consumer and family economics at the University of Illinois.

U of I Extension has addressed the issues surrounding college students' use of money in their new Parent Smarts fact sheets. The fact sheets can be found on the Web by visiting, then typing Parent Smarts in the search box.

Parent Smarts contains six fact sheets and a worksheet for a student spending plan. Three of the fact sheets discuss the wise use of credit; one is devoted to helping a student get out of credit-card debt after he's already in it.

Parent Smarts provides help for talking with your student about identifying and listing expenses, distinguishing needs from wants, living within his means, and preparing for an emergency.

The fact sheets suggest having your student practice living on a budget at home before she goes away to school, with the same amount of spending money and other resources she will have on campus. The educators stress that parents should set limits on the amount of money they will provide and that they should stand firm because mixed signals will hinder your child's development into financial independence.

The series suggests activities and additional resources to help beginning college students become responsible consumers.