Heading off to college is an exciting time for many young adults. As colleges and universities across the state welcome students back to campus, the Oregon Division of Financial Regulation is sharing five ways young adults and their parents can financially prepare for the adventure.
1. Insure your belongings – Check with your insurance company about covering your belongings. Ask about renters insurance, and use the division’s shopping guide to find the right insurance coverage for you.
2. Understand how you are paying for college – Make sure you understand the financial aid offer and terms of your student loans. Make a plan, and update it regularly, to ensure you graduate with debt you can afford.
3. Take credit cards seriously – Credit cards can help build your credit profile, but charges can add up fast. Before applying to get that free gift, review the fine print and weigh the pros and cons. You may need a co-signer, or you could be an authorized user on someone else’s card, if they also manage their credit well. Remember, pay the balance in full each month; don’t pay interest for that late-night pizza.
4. Start a budget – Map out a monthly budget to make sure you have enough money for important expenses, such as books, loans, food, and rent. This will also help you see how much you have available for fun activities and building up your savings.
5. Find a bank or credit union – If you are going to be opening new checking and savings accounts, do some research to choose the one that provides the best rates and perks. Bank On Oregon lists some financial institutions with low-cost accounts. If you already have a bank or credit union, check to see if it has a branch close to campus or make sure it has the apps and tools to meet your needs online. Banks and credit unions are federally insured and protect your deposits, unlike Venmo and PayPal accounts.
In addition to these five steps, the division encourages young adults and their parents to consider these additional ways to financially prepare for college.
• Review health insurance – Students can remain on their parents’ health insurance plans until age 26. Make sure there are in-network providers available near the campus. If the health plan does not offer adequate in-network coverage in the area, see if the school has a student health plan that may provide better coverage. Remember, a cheaper premium does not always mean comprehensive health coverage.
• Review auto insurance – Make sure your auto insurance will cover the student as the primary driver and that the physical address of the car is updated. Be sure to double check the auto coverage on the car and that you have the right deductible amounts on your policy to make sure they fit your needs.
• Prepare for disaster – Disasters can happen anywhere. Take time to prepare for a disaster at your new location. A few simple tasks, such as building an emergency kit, creating a home inventory and making copies of important documents, will help save time, money and stress when disaster strikes.
There are several ways to get financially ready for college. Starting with these steps will prepare you for your time away from home and help build a financial foundation you can build on for a lifetime.
If you have questions about your insurance or financial accounts, talk with your company representative, agent, or broker. If you still have questions or concerns, free help is available from the Division of Financial Regulation’s consumer advocates:
• Call: 888-877-4894 (toll-free)
• Visit: dfr.oregon.gov