To continue enjoying all the features of Navy Federal Online, please use a compatible browser. You can confirm your browser capability here.

Bottom Line Up Front

  • It’s important to review your student’s budget with them before they head off to college.
  • Discuss ways to keep your student on budget, help them decide if they have the time for a part-time job, and teach them about credit cards and responsible credit card use.

Time to Read

2 minutes

November 21, 2023

Going away to college can be a whirlwind of new experiences for your student—from meeting roommates to 8 am lectures, doing their own laundry and being away from home.

There’s one other important milestone in the transition, and that’s managing personal finances on their own. Check in with your student regularly to see how they’re managing their finances.

Consider the following together:

What’s their budget?

College costs and living expenses add up. Establishing a budget for your student up-front can help prevent surprise spending.

There are plenty of great budgeting apps and approaches to consider. Take a second to review the basics of budgeting for sound money management and how to manage unexpected expenses.

Revisit your budget strategy often. Too much spending at the campus coffee shop? Discuss getting a coffee maker instead. Eating out too often? Take a look at the meal plans offered by the school.

Can they earn extra income?

Even if your student has been following their budget, having some extra money in a savings account or another bank account to serve as an emergency fund can never hurt. Encourage your student to seek out roles that interest them and can earn them a bit of money.

Start looking early for positions with the school itself and consider paid internships as well. Take a look at retail or food service jobs, too.

Are they ready for a credit card?

Get them started building strong credit with good habits and the right introductory card.

  • If they’re not quite ready for a true credit card, consider a prepaid card, such as Navy Federal’s GO Prepaid Card. This card can be reloaded when needed to help your student make smart financial decisions.
  • Ready for the next step? A great option is a secured credit card, like our nRewards® card, which is backed by a cash deposit.

Responsible use of either of these cards should make the transition to an unsecured credit card easier.

As your student tackles more challenges academically, keep them on track financially. Simple conversations and check-ins can make all the difference.

Key Takeaways Key Takeaways


This content is intended to provide general information and shouldn't be considered legal, tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.