The Top 5 Things College Students Should Know About Financial Education

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It’s understandable for anyone who made it into a dream college or even to any college at all, really, to think he’s pretty smart. But when it comes to finances, many college students don’t even know what they don’t know. Living within a budget and avoiding credit card debt might be as foreign sounding as Latin, even after four years of it.

5 How to Negotiate

Once graduation nears and the college student is thinking about job interviews, he needs to research what starting salaries typically are for the job in that geographical area. If a nice, sweet job offer comes, eager recent grads should not jump on the offer if it’s significantly below what research indicates should be the starting salary. Recent college grads need to learn that it’s OK to tell a potential employer that they’d love the job but not at that salary, and then they need to counter.

4 How to Manage Money

College students need to have a plan for their money, such as knowing how much they receive per month, so they’ll have an idea regarding how much they can spend. Calling or, worse, texting Mom or Dad each time they’re broke before month’s end should not be the M.O. And besides just knowing how much extra spending money they have, college students should keep track of how much they spend.

3 How to Plan for the Future

If a college student would ever ask a person nearing retirement what financial advice he’d give, he’d be likely to say to start saving now for retirement. Once you hit your 50s and are just starting to save, the government lets you save more in retirement accounts and calls that “catch-up contributions,” meaning that even the Internal Revenue Service is trying to give those poor souls a break. But, really, if you haven’t started saving by 50, you are unlikely to catch up, not like if you started in your 20s. If you can save $250 a month and put it into an IRA while you’re in your 20s, you will have almost half a million dollars when you’re 65.

2 How to Use Credit Wisely

College kids are notorious for racking up credit card debt. If they want something, they want it now, YOLO style, and if they have plastic to get it, they will. They think that because they can handle the minimum payment at the end of the month, everything’s cool. But college students who get themselves in credit card debt are more likely to have financial problems after they graduate, according to a 2006 conference by the Eastern Family Economics and Resource Management Association. Their credit will likely be shot, which means they’ll probably have difficulty renting an apartment and finding a job because landlords and employers often check credit reports. Then, they’ll have to move back home.

1 How Much Should College Cost?

Student loan debt, at around $1 trillion, is now larger than credit card debt and auto loan debt, but many college kids think that after graduation they’ll land a job right away, which will take care of it. They need to think again. College tuition continues to rise, but job prospects don’t. Something is wrong in Dodge. Delinquency rates are up with student loan debt, and no wonder: According to the “St. Louis Business Journal,” 40 percent of student borrowers owe $10,000 after graduation, 30 percent owe $25,000 and 0.6 percent owe an unbelievable $200,000.

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