College Finance 101: How to make it to graduation without student debt

Real World 101

In addition to beginning the college research process, there are certain steps that you should take to prepare financially for the road ahead as well.

  • Open a Checking Account. It would be a good idea to set up a checking account at this point, if you haven’t already done so. This will not only help you with the basics of money management, but regular use of the account via deposits of cash you receive as a gift and/or earn through a summer job will demonstrate a history of responsible financial health. This will benefit you when you apply for a credit card later on. Plus, many employers require direct deposit, so if you currently have a job and/or are planning to work in college, now would be the time to set up an account.

    Do some research to determine which bank you prefer. Talk to your parents and friends about the bank they use and what they like or dislike about it. You may also want to consider speaking with a bank representative to better understand your responsibilities and learn about any benefits that they offer for students. Keep in mind that you must be 18 years of age to open a checking account in your name, so you will need to have a parent or legal guardian with you who is willing to be a co-owner on the account.

    Make sure you have the following items when you open your account:

    • Social Security number
    • Driver’s license
    • Minimum opening deposit amount
  • Get a Debit Card. You may also want to consider getting a debit card that’s linked to your checking account. Make sure that you keep all of your receipts and track how much money is going in and out. Check on your account regularly using the bank’s mobile app, your computer, or your local ATM. This will help you learn how to budget your money. This will also help protect you from theft since you are using a card instead of carrying around cash.

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