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Bottom Line Up Front

  • If your child is heading off to college this fall, spend some time teaching them financial skills. 
  • From opening a checking account to setting a savings plan and discussing student loan options, your child will better understand saving and budgeting.
  • Online bill payments are a quick and easy way to pay any money owed and teach your child to look out for student discounts when shopping.

Time to Read

5 minutes

May 1, 2022

Getting ready to send your child off to college for the first time can be both exciting and a little scary. It’s also the perfect time to sit down and discuss finances. We’re here to help with our parent’s guide. With these 5 considerations in mind, your child will be ready to take on the responsibilities of managing a budget and building a strong foundation that will take them into adulthood.

  1. Open a college checking account. College is the perfect time for your child to start honing their financial skills for the first time. By opening a college checking account, your child can have access to a debit card, making purchases more accessible. A mobile banking app can help keep track of their spending, keep their savings on-the-go and help to set a savings plan. A checking account also gives them access to Zelle®1 and other payment transfer services that make it easy for them to send money to and receive money from friends and family. You never know when they’ll need money for “extracurricular activities”!
  2. Be educated about student loan options. Student loans are just one of many options to choose from when deciding how to pay for a college education. They come in 2 main forms: federal and private loans. Federal loans are backed by the U.S. Department of Education and require you to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Your college admissions office can help assist you with financial aid. Private loans can help bridge the gap between college costs after exploring federal loans and scholarship options. Covering college costs and saving for college looks different for everyone, so it’s important to explore your options. Sit down with your high school student before the school year starts so you can both understand the different types of student loans and how to apply for them.
  3. Teach your child the importance of saving and budgeting. After just one semester, many first-time college students find themselves short on money. Maybe they overspent on eating out or underestimated the cost of books. Before this happens, take the time to work out a budget with your student. Talk about expenses they may want to save for like a spring break trip, fraternity dues or study abroad. There are resources to help students learn how to budget, set savings goals or pick the right kind of savings account. Saving money to reach goals is a lifelong skill. 
  4. Consider digital banking. Digital banking through a mobile app or online banking can be an easy way to pay bills, deposit checks and transfer money. If your child is living off campus, online bill pay can be a hassle-free way to pay the landlord, utilities or phone bills. Take time to walk them through how to enroll and set up bill pay. Scheduling automatic payments will ensure they’re never late on a bill.
  5. Take advantage of student discounts. Lots of restaurants and companies offer student discounts. This is an easy way to save a couple dollars here and there when immersed in college life. Some stores also offer bundles, so your college freshman can take home that new laptop and printer on the same day for a lot less. Most states also have a tax- free weekend before schools start. 

College applications and finally sending your child off to college can be an exciting adventure. Creating a base for strong financial knowledge now can pay off in the future. Use these tips to better financially prepare your child as they embark on their journey for higher education.

Next Steps Next Steps

  1. Saving for your child’s education needs a long-term plan. Use our College Savings Calculator to estimate how much you need to start saving, and when. 
  2. Navy Federal members can get free personalized financial guidance, regardless of their financial situation. Contact one our personal financial counselors to help you identify your goals and develop a roadmap for reaching them 



Zelle® is available to bank account holders in the U.S. only. To receive money in minutes, the recipient's email address or U.S. mobile number must already be enrolled with Zelle®. Zelle® and the Zelle®-related marks are wholly owned by Early Warning Services, LLC and are used herein under license. Note: This service is not intended to replace the current member-to-member transfer options Navy Federal offers. It is available for members who do not have the option to complete an internal transfer or an ACHO (Automated Clearing House Operation) with an account and routing number. Members can also send funds to non-Navy Federal members.

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.