Top Financial Tips for College Students

The financially carefree days of college students are quickly disappearing in the rearview mirror. Surveys indicate that the majority of college students experience stress about money before graduation. It almost goes without saying that this newest generation may not be overly welcoming to "advice" from their parents or grandparents. After all, those are the people who suffered massive student loan debt, a subprime mortgage crisis, and the Great Recession.

But, as the saying goes, sometimes experience is the best teacher. If that's true, people over 40 know a metric ton about how to avoid financial mistakes. That's why college students may want to consider tips from people who have learned hard lessons rather than repeat the cycle.

Why Should You Care About Money In College?

Spending your college years worrying about money runs contrary to the idea of the experience. You learn exciting new things, make friendships that last a lifetime, and graduate with a degree that opens vast opportunities. College students are at a critical juncture where the future is seemingly limitless. The fact that financial stress grows as you get closer to wearing a cap and gown is reason enough to take proactive measures.

Although a pleasant experience is important, making the right financial decisions while in school impacts your financial future. Keep these simple recommendations in mind or share them with a friend or family member to ensure that their college student manages money and builds their credit before graduating, helping to put them ahead of the class.

Take Advantage of College Amenities

Colleges and universities typically invest in student activities designed to entertain and help people bond. These complimentary on-campus amenities help college students save money and enjoy a fulfilling educational experience. Rather than drop $30 going out to the movies and another $20 getting a decent entrée, consider gathering friends and taking advantage of on-campus options. Truth be told, tuition typically includes these costs.

Beware of School-Sponsored Accounts & Offers

Well-meaning administrators try to create convenient options for college students to use on campus. Branded with the institution’s name, savings, checking, and credit card accounts appear enticing at first glance. As a student, most young adults feel confident they will get approved without involving their parents.

Rarely — if ever — can an organization focused on education provide the best all-around financial product, service, or benefits. Check with your local bank to review potential checking accounts.  If you have already headed off to school, you can always open your account online.  

Open a Reliable Checking Account

The best solution to not repeat your elders’ financial faux pas is to conduct due diligence and open a more suitable checking account. Corporate banks excessively charge fees because they need to turn profits and pay shareholders. By contrast, community banks like Middlesex Federal are committed to offering customers products and services that provide financial solutions to suit their needs. Middlesex Federal's FREE checking account is a great option for students as there is no minimum balance or monthly fee, and it is available online.  Below is a list of benefits included with Middlesex Federal's FREE Checking.

  • No Minimum Balance and No Monthly Fee 
  • Debit Card with Zero Liability & Free ATMs
  • Automatic Refunds of ATM Fees Charged by Other Banks 
  • Free ATM Access - Every time. Every ATM. Always!*
  • Online & Mobile Banking to Manage Your Money and Debit Card Online. 


Check Statements Regularly

Setting aside an hour each month to review bank accounts and other statements helps college students in two ways. First, it puts your mind at ease about any mistakes or overcharges that may appear. If there’s an error or overcharge, you can have it promptly corrected. The second benefit involves establishing good financial habits. It’s essential to keep track of your finances and hard-earned money.

Create Financial Goals & Budget to Stay Focused

It’s important to generate some income while attending classes. On-campus jobs can be optimal for earning money without incurring commute times or expenses. If you are new to college life, apply for every suitable on-campus position and accept the offer that makes sense for your financial needs. Then build a monthly budget around that revenue that includes necessary and discretionary spending.

person in front of laptop

Savings Accounts are Meant for Emergencies

It’s important to place a portion of your earnings in a savings account for emergencies. Reasons to tap into that backup money do not include concert tickets, a road trip, or new clothes. Emergencies for college students might involve purchasing textbooks or an urgent care visit. With any luck, you’ll graduate with enough cash in the bank to get an apartment after securing a job.

Get A Second Opinion On Large Purchases

Taking a portion of a student loan, scholarship, or even a tax refund and spending it on a big-ticket item may not be the best idea. Expensive devices only last a few years before becoming outdated. And buying new dorm room furnishing probably won’t make the journey into post-college professional life. Consider asking friends and relatives who went to college about major purchases. The money you save could prove invaluable after graduation.

You Are Not Alone

More than a few high schoolers and college students feel like their parents, and other family members come across as if they know better. Truth be told, older adults routinely made financial debacles they regret and they’re trying to advise you not to make the same mistakes. It may prove useful to ask loved ones to talk about their financial missteps so you can maximize your experience and minimize financial mistakes.

If you are looking for trustworthy financial advice, and a free checking account with free ATM access  or a savings account that can help manage your money better, contact Middlesex Federal today or open a checking or savings account online now.

Creating a budget really is one of our top financial tips for new college students. For more tips and a free budgeting template, review our "If You Need A Budget, Look No Further!" eBook.


*FREE ATM ACCESS: Middlesex Federal will not charge Simply Free (includes Student Checking) and President's Choice checking customers for using another bank's ATM. And, we'll reimburse any surcharge fees other banks may charge, at the end of each statement cycle. Statement Savings Free ATM access is available to Middlesex Federal personal checking customers only.

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