AICCCA Press Release
AICCCA Offers Five Questions to Help Parents
Prepare College Students for Financial Independence
Fairfax, VA - July 31, 2012 — As parents across the country are preparing to send their high school graduates away from home for the first time, they should take the time to pack some financial advice in those college-bound bags, boxes and suitcases.
"Most parents do their best to prepare their children to leave home and go out into the world of college and/or career," said David Jones, president, Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies. "Unfortunately, this preparation doesn't always include preparing for financial independence."
AICCCA offers five questions to discuss before moving day:
- Who is responsible? Agree beforehand that students are going to take full responsibility for their finances at college. This means they will need to make their money last by keeping track of their spending, balancing their checking accounts and paying their bills when due.
- How much money are we spending? It is important for your student to know all the costs of college life. Knowing where the money to pay those costs comes from is equally important. These sources may include scholarships, loans and money from the family. For most families, some combination of these will pay for tuition, books and room and board. Other income, such as a part-time job or spending allowance, will determine the amount that is available to spend on the remaining expense items in the plan. Students should come away from this session with a good idea of how much they will have available to spend each month.
- Who is paying for what? Once you have determined the amount available, sit down with your student and create a spending plan. Write down all college expenses: tuition, books, room and board, toiletries, entertainment, gasoline, etc. Decide together on the things for which you will be paying and those for which your child will be responsible. Address wants versus needs and decide together how the "wants" will be paid for. You will also need to discuss how to handle emergency expenses.
- How about a credit card? For some families, the convenience of a credit card seems to far outweigh any
disadvantages. Unlike cash, a lost or stolen credit card can be replaced and limits exist for fraud or unauthorized charges. Credit cards can also be an excellent resource in case of an unexpected car repair or emergency airfare home. But make sure your teen knows using a credit card is not free money; it is instead a means of putting off paying for purchases until a later date. The bill will arrive and the creditor will expect to be paid. Charges and interest can add up quickly and without a spending plan in place to pay off the debt in a reasonable amount of time, a student can end up in trouble in a hurry.Credit card trouble in college can spell disaster in later years when they go to apply for a mortgage or buy a new car. It can even limit your student's future employment opportunities, since many employers now run credit reports on prospective
- What happens if I run out of money? As with any new responsibility, some college students will end up charging more than they can afford, run out of money before the end of the month or be in debt to their roommates. While your first reaction may be to send money, remember that you agreed that your student would be responsible for their finances at college. The important financial lesson of overspending and its consequences will not be learned if you automatically send money every time your student is in trouble. Let them figure out a solution. This may mean that they will have to work on the weekends or stay at home when their friends are going out to earn or save money to pay off their debts. When the solution must come from within, they are much less likely to make the same mistake again.
Founded in 1993, Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies (AICCCA) is a national membership organization, established to promote quality and consistent delivery of credit counseling services. AICCCA and its members are focused on improved creditor relations, efficient processes and advanced technology to best serve clients and creditors. AICCCA members are independent nonprofit agencies that advocate for debtors, counsel millions of consumers annually nationwide and provide debt management services to consumers with excessive unsecured debt. For more information or to contact an AICCCA member office call 866-703-TRUSTAICCCA (866-703-8787) or visit www.aiccca.org.