How To Keep Your Clueless Student Out Of Hock

By Jim Gallagher
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Before your loved one heads off to college, be sure to start them off right with the gift of financial knowledge. Some colleges even offer help with this. Mizzou has a one-credit online course called “Financial Survival,” designed for students managing their own money for the first time.

ST. LOUIS

Lots of new high school graduates will soon be heading off to college. It will be their first time managing money on their own, and most will do just fine.

Some, however, will dig themselves into a deep financial hole.

So, let’s look for ways to keep your 18-year-old out of money trouble when he’s finally cut loose.

For help, we’ll turn to two people who know a lot about students and financial messes. Rob Weagley is chairman emeritus of the personal financial planning department at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Angela Whitlow counsels low-income students bound for college at Boys Hope Girls Hope in suburban St. Louis.

By now, families have their student aid packages, and they figure they can afford the school they’ve chosen. But a clueless teen can still foul things up.

The first step is to hand the student a paper and pencil. “You’ve got to have a budget,” says Weagley.

Break the budget into two parts, needs and wants. The needs are food, shelter, tuition, books, transport and a phone.

Everything else is a want. Holes in your jeans are a fashion statement. So is a head in need of a haircut.

Add up the needs, and compare it to the amount of money available for the year. Anything left is pizza, jeans and haircut money.

Some colleges offer help with this. Mizzou has a one-credit online course called “Financial Survival,” designed for students managing their own money for the first time. It goes beyond paying for college into things such as apartment leases and credit. Webster University has a similar “Money Talks” program.

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