Money Management for College Students
You’ve made it through the SATs and the ACTs, sweated-out the applications and endured the waiting-and-wondering stage. Your new grad has weighed all the options and he or she has a plan. No matter what’s next — a four-year university, community college, military service, or even a gap year — one thing is certain: Your new grad will have to make decisions about money and you want him or her to make the best decisions possible.
CashCourse® (www.cashcourse.org) is a free online resource that equips young people with tools to help them track spending, create a budget and, most importantly, understand how their current decisions will affect their future financial well-being.
Launched in 2007 by The National Endowment for Financial Education® (NEFE®), CashCourse is nonprofit and noncommercial — the program never solicits its users to buy products or pay for resources. The sole purpose of CashCourse is to give college-age young adults the information they need to make informed, thoughtful and beneficial financial decisions that are aligned with their values.
CashCourse is used in more than 950 schools — including small private colleges, large public universities and both two-year and four-year programs — in all 50 states. About 40 percent of CashCourse schools are community colleges.
Many schools use CashCourse in freshman orientation sessions to help new students think about how they will manage their money during their college years.
One School’s Success
At Itawamba Community College in Fulton, Miss., Marty Cooper directs the PACE (Preparing and Advancing for College Excellence) program, which has used CashCourse in its first-year experience class since 2012.
“We have students come up with a budget for their college time,” says Cooper. “A lot of students work while they go to school and it really helps them.”
In addition to their college budgets, Cooper also has students create an adult budget in order to help them understand the real costs of expenses such as housing, transportation and groceries. Students come up with their own projections in class using the CashCourse Budget Wizard and then take their budgets home to their parents, grandparents or other adults in their lives to check the accuracy of their estimates.
Student response to the course has been overwhelmingly positive.
“Eighty or 90 percent of them say the financial information and the CashCourse program are the number one benefit they get from the class,” says Cooper.
Sharing CashCourse with Your New Grad
CashCourse’s program manager, Amy Marty, says the best time to introduce your grad to CashCourse is before he or she heads out for freshman orientation.
“You want to get started early — before school even starts, before the financial aid packet arrives,” says Marty. “These are conversations that you want to have early and repeatedly in order to understand the money issues that your kids are dealing with and to help them make informed decisions.”
Anyone can sign up for CashCourse by going to
www.cashcourse.org and selecting “Register Now” in the Student section of the home page. You or your new grad can select an account associated with a specific school or register without a school affiliation (just choose your state and “School Not Listed”).
For more information on CashCourse and to create your own free account, go to
In addition to a Budget Wizard, calculators, worksheets and the Financial Experts Wall, where students can get answers to their real-world financial questions, CashCourse has articles on a wide range of topics including everything from repaying student loans and living with roommates to choosing a career and making sense of workplace benefits.