Cash Access and the College Student

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Students who are away at college, far from even the expanded reach of their parents, often face a dilemma when it comes to money: they don’t have enough of it on hand or it isn’t readily available to them when they need it. Thankfully, cash on hand is no longer the only way that students can have access to funds which is actually good, but for another reason: carrying college moneyaround a lot of money can be risky from a safety and security standpoint.

If your student is in need of access to money, the following are some ways for you ensure that they are never quite broke:

Joint Checking Account – Why not open up a joint checking account with your son or daughter, allowing parents and child to make deposits and withdrawals? Supply your student with a debit card to allow him or her to withdraw funds as needed or make purchases which will instantly deduct these funds from the account. Give joint secured online access to the account to allow both you and your child to review statements.

Store Card – If your student enjoys visiting a favorite coffee or sandwich shop, you can give him or her a Starbucks or Panera Bread card which is treated just like cash. Choose those cards without an expiration date (hint: avoid most gift cards) and with no fees attached.

College Credit – Some schools allow parents to deposit funds into a reserve fund for their children, an account that is managed by the school. If they get in a bind, your son or daughter can access these funds to cover expenses or to help out in an emergency. Funds may only be available during business hours so don’t rely upon this method exclusively.

Credit Card – Cash or a debit card may not do if your son is stranded and he needs a tow. Some tow operators will only deal with a credit card, so why not co-sign a student credit card and allow him to access these funds in an emergency? You can place a limit on the credit line, say $500 which will cover most emergencies while keeping your child from going overboard.

Paper Money – No student should be without actual money, but they tend to burn right through it if it is in their wallet. You cannot lord yourself over your grown children, but you can urge them to keep cash on hand limited and use bills no larger than a twenty dollar bills in the event that a wallet or purse is stolen.

You’ll also want to make sure that your son or daughter carries around with them a health insurance card, personal identification, and even a AAA or other motorist club card. You can’t and shouldn’t monitor your child’s every move, but you can help them learn how to respond to a problem or an emergency by equipping them with the resources they need to succeed including cash access.


Adv. — Smart planning guides and other helpful tools can be found on OffToCollege.com, your resource to help you prepare for and succeed in college. Learn all about credit and how to manage money while away from home.

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