5 Financial Lessons for College Students

Follow these tips so your kids will score well when it comes to managing money while away at school.

Forget tuition. Once that bill is taken care of, the biggest financial challenge you face when sending kids off to college is making sure they don’t overdraw their checking account or run up a credit-card bill they can’t pay off. Here’s how to help boost their financial GPA (and save big bucks on fees).

Open a low-cost checking account in your child’s college town, especially if his current bank doesn’t have branches there. Pay close attention to the bank pitches you’ve been getting in the mail so that you can spot the best combination of low balance requirements and low (or no) fees. With a host of new regulations squeezing bank revenues, totally free checking will be harder to come by and may come with strings attached, such as a minimum number of required debit-card transactions. For help in searching for an account, go to www.checkingfinder.com.

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Janet Bodnar

Janet Bodnar is editor-at-large of Kiplinger's Personal Finance, a position she assumed after retiring as editor of the magazine after eight years at the helm. She is a nationally recognized expert on the subjects of women and money, children's and family finances, and financial literacy. She is the author of two books, Money Smart Women and Raising Money Smart Kids. As editor-at-large, she writes two popular columns for Kiplinger, "Money Smart Women" and "Living in Retirement." Bodnar is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University and is a member of its Board of Trustees. She received her master's degree from Columbia University, where she was also a Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Business and Economics Journalism.