Skip to main content

As the parent of a future college student, you have a lot to worry about: from how you’ll handle the empty nest to paying tuition bills.

One often unspoken subject between parents and their (almost) adult children is financial responsibility. Use your years of experience to help your child understand how to manage money responsibly. Here’s how:

Involve them in the payment process.

Even if you have the money to cover the cost of tuition, your child shouldn’t get a free ride. Remind them that they need to help pay for their education.

Support them in getting a job.

You know it’s easier to spend someone else’s cash. That means you probably shouldn’t simply send your kid checks each month. Teaching your child financial responsibility begins with them earning their own money. So, urge them to get a job.

Help them navigate the banking system.

That means helping them pick an account, preferably at a bank that has a presence on their campus. Teach them the differences between credit and debit and the dangers of debt. Remind them that credit cards have interest rates and debit cards are free.

Don’t bail them out of every financial hardship.

Lessons are sometimes difficult to swallow, but your child may need to learn the hard way. If they decide not to work all semester but want to go on spring break anyway—tough luck, kiddo. Maybe next year you should save more, plan better, or work. It’s not tough love, just tough money.

Teach them the power of habitual saving.

These days it’s easy. Paychecks can be directly deposited into checking accounts. The trick is keeping it there. The easiest way is by asking your child to create a monthly budget.


ScholarShare 529, California’s college savings plan, publishes the College Countdown website and articles to provide resources and to ease the minds of parents preparing to send their kids to college. Visit ScholarShare 529.