By Christian Ackmann, Economics concentrator at Brown University; Winner of the 2012 National Personal Finance Challenge.
You would be surprised to know the number of college students who don’t know how build their credit history, view their account balances, or even write a check. College is usually the first time that students acquire independence, yet some students remain dependent on their parents’ financial support and advice. Proper financial education in high school is necessary to gain financial independence in college. During my first year of college, I have seen many financial mistakes made by my fellow students. Here are some of the things I believe every college student should know about personal finance to make intelligent financial decisions.
When I asked my fellow classmates which financial topics they wished they knew more about, the unanimous answer was credit. For many college students, credit cards are a thing of mystery. They are magical pieces of plastic that somehow pay for pizza and gasoline using money from their parents. The first step to establishing a solid credit history is understanding how credit works. Once students understand the importance of credit, it can be very helpful to have a credit card in the student’s name (not the parent’s name) to encourage responsibility. Paying the credit card bill in full each month is an easy way to build a good credit history, not to mention the perks that many cards offer, such as cash back or air miles (which are especially applicable to college students living away from home). Read more…