Most of the parents we know with recent high school graduates are all too aware of the costs of college tuition. But a lot of them seriously underestimate something just as important: the money students need for day-to-day living and to cover those unexpected expenses that always seem to pop up.
Those who have it figured out beforehand – or learned the hard way with older college-age kids – generally share one important tip: rather than nervously awaiting that first ugly surprise, it pays to be proactive. That means having a serious discussion about “who pays for what” well before your student heads off to campus. Here are just a few of the things you might want to cover:
- Travel – yes, for coming home, but also for fun stuff like spring break or weekend road trips
- Phone bills – streaming music or binge-watching video can blow up data plans
- All those late-night pizzas or other snacks that fuel “study sessions” (wink-wink)
- The absolutely “must-have” school t-shirts or hoodies from the bookstore
- In some situations, the costs of an off-campus apartment
- Sorority/Fraternity expenses, including dues, events and gear
- Actual school supplies, which are always more expensive than you expect
At many colleges, freshmen can’t have cars on campus. If they can, though, there’s another batch of expenses to be considered. Fuel, insurance, parking permits and more…it all adds up in a hurry. And that’s if everything goes smoothly! Repairs and routine maintenance can put a serious dent in any budget; it’s a good idea to have a strategy for handling car-related costs before they arise.
On the bright side, on- or off-campus jobs can provide students with a steady cash flow, savings for the next semester and maybe even some valuable life experience. It’s important, however, for you both to be sensitive to the importance of good study habits and getting enough rest. A reasonable work/study balance can help keep the focus on learning, and stress to a minimum.
Finally, a great way for parents to keep an eye on spending is to have a student checking account that is linked to their own. Whether parents deposit a set “allowance” each month, or simply monitor where the money’s going, adjustments are a lot easier to make that way. Best of all, no matter where your kid is going, from the University of Georgia, to San Diego State or anywhere in between, a First Internet Bank checking or savings account is only a few keystrokes away.
Following these tips can go a long way toward helping parents and students handle the expected – and the unexpected – costs of college. To learn more about our checking and savings options, visit https://www.firstib.com/personal/bank/ or call 800-873-3424.