University of Virginia

HS Graduates-Tips for Summer

Graduating seniors: Last October when you were mired in essays and applications, you probably thought graduation would never get here. Well it’s here! Congratulations and well done – you deserve a pat on the back for both your perseverance and your accomplishment.

This summer is a great time to get a few things straight before heading off to college. The biggest one that many students neglect until the last minute is figuring out your spending money in college. If you have your money lined up for the year already or are counting on a job this summer for it, you’re all set. But if you think you’ll need some from your parents, you’ll want to address this now. Don’t wait for when you are packing up the car!

Start by dividing your expected expenses into one-time expenses and monthly recurring ones. For example, things for your dorm room, a few new clothes, your textbooks – these are one-time expenses. Keep these separate from the recurring ones, things like money for going out, concerts, movies, and having fun. Colleges are great sources of free activities but many things cost money. If you’ll have a car, add in gas and parking costs. If you plan on joining a fraternity or sorority, add in any costs for that.  Greek life can be a surprising expense.

Once you have your estimate, ask your parents to sit down and go over it with you. If you’ve done a good job, they will be more likely to listen to what you have to say. They might not hand you cash, but it will start the conversation going, and you’ll be beginning your journey toward financial independence!

You also want to spend some time on the mechanics – what bank will you use? Will you have access to that bank’s ATM at college? How will your parents get you money if they need to? What if there is an emergency need for money? Spending some time on these questions now will save you lots of headaches in September.

For more on the ins and outs of your spending money, drop us an email and we’ll send you more tips.

Two more summertime ideas:

  • If you have a student loan in your financial aid package, you must do online “entrance counseling” before you can get the money. Do that this week. It will only take 20 or so minutes and it’s required. Your school’s financial aid office will give you the details of how to do the counseling.
  • When you register for classes (most likely at orientation), write down the ISBN of the textbooks your classes will be using. You can then use it to find cheap alternatives to paying retail price at the student bookstore for introductory level books you’ll only use once. This can save you hundreds of dollars and there’s really no excuse not to do it. Let your parents know you want to do it too, they will appreciate it.

Your newfound freedom brings with it newfound responsibilities, especially financial ones. Use the time you have this summer to make a plan and you won’t be living like Sugarland sings:

“Dear Mom and Dad,

Please send money, I’m so broke that it ain’t funny.

I don’t need much, just enough to get me through.”