Acing Money 101: What Every College Student Needs to Know About Personal Finance

Despite scorching temperatures, national financial literacy American Consumer Credit Counseling advises consumers to start saving now for holiday expenses.

Boston, MA – July 24, 2014

College Student and Personal FinanceWhile many college bound students will spend their summers preparing for the Fall semester, few will ask themselves if they are financially prepared for the next four years. Personal finance can be a daunting topic for college kids, but it is one that needs more attention. Today, with the average American college student graduating with $26,500 of debt, it is essential that college students have an understanding of how to most effectively manage their personal finances. A national financial education nonprofit, American Consumer Credit Counselling, has put forth some basic guidelines that will help college kids make money-savvy decisions while still in school.

“The way young Americans spend and manage their money now can determine the rest of their lives,” said Steven Trumble, President and CEO ACCC. “You have no idea how many times I’ve heard grads say how they wish they knew more and made better decisions about finances when they were in college. If students can learn how to best manage their money before stepping onto their college campus, they will thank themselves later.”

The long-term implications of poor money management while in college can greatly hinder a graduate’s success after graduation. Despite earning their degrees, college graduates currently hold more than $1 trillion in student loan debt, which serves as a large barrier to taking the next steps in their lives.

According to a recent study from the American Institute of CPAs, about three-quarters of student loan borrowers surveyed said they — or their children — have been forced to make sacrifices in order to keep up with student loan payments. This includes 41 percent who have delayed retirement, 40 percent who have put off buying a car, and 29 percent that have postponed home purchases.

Student debt, coupled with credit card spending, can have serious implications for young Americans down the line. According to a Sallie Mae study, 84 percent of undergraduates have at least one credit card and carry an average balance of $3,173.

“There is nothing more damaging to a young person’s future than mountains of debt,” said Trumble. “From building credit effectively to budgeting to even opening your first checking account, college-bound students and their parents share a responsibility to arm themselves with the education needed to make financially sound decisions.”


Developing a realistic and manageable budget is a lifelong skill that is essential for anyone in college, preparing to go to college, or just graduating.  Start by using a budgeting worksheet for students to get an accurate picture of your income and expenses. By comparing and contrasting your total income and expenses, you will be able to create a feasible budget plan. By sticking to your budget, you will avoid going into any unnecessary credit card debt.

How to Choose a Bank / Credit Card

Consider your specific banking needs and services, not just the freebies you’ll receive when you open an account. Think about location. Is there a bank that is in both your college town and hometown? Don’t forget to see if there are any fees associated with your account or card. Use the Bank Account Comparison and Choosing a Credit Card worksheets in ACCC’s College Financial Workbook.

Use Credit Responsibly

It can be tempting to make purchases with a credit card when you’re short on cash, but make sure you’re not biting off more debt than you can handle. Racking up credit card debt now can severely hurt your credit score and your chances at obtaining other lines of credit in the future. It can also hurt your chances to rent an apartment. Only charge what you can afford to pay back quickly.

Monitor Your Accounts on a Regular Basis

Take a few minutes each day to log into your accounts (including bank and credit card accounts) and check for any suspicious activity. This will help safeguard you against any fraudulent charges and potentially identity theft.


Consider retail jobs, paid internships, federal work study jobs, and tutoring to earn and save money while in school. It’s important to save for your future – for an apartment after graduation, student loan payments, or a relocation for a job.

Use your Student ID for Discounts

Not only will you need it to enter your dorm, the dining hall, and the library, but your student ID can also earn you discounts at hundreds of retailers nationwide. If you are not sure if a company offers a student discount, just ask. Check out the College Financial Workbook for a full list of discounts.

Be Aware of Your Financial Situation

Too many students graduate from college without any idea of how much they’ll have in student loans, or how much to expect to make at their first job. Make sure you know how much school costs per year, what your parents are covering, what you’ll be expected to cover, and budget for rent and living expenses accordingly.

ACCC is a 501(c)3 organization, that provides free credit counseling, bankruptcy counseling, and housing counseling to consumers nationwide in need of financial literacy education and money management. For more information, contact ACCC:

  • For credit counseling call 800-769-3571
  • For bankruptcy counseling. call 866-826-6924
  • For housing counseling, call 866-826-7180
  • Or visit us online at

About American Consumer Credit Counseling

American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC) is a nonprofit credit counseling 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to empowering consumers to achieve financial management and debt relief through education, credit counseling, and debt management solutions. ACCC provides individuals with practical debt solutions for solving financial problems and recognizes that consumers’ financial difficulties are often not the result of poor spending habits, but more frequently from extenuating circumstances beyond their control. As one of the nation’s leading providers of financial education  and credit counseling services, ACCC’s certified credit advisors work with consumers to help them determine the best plan of action to get out of debt  and regain financial stability. ACCC holds an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and is a member of the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies. For more information or to access free financial education resources, log on to or visit