40 Money Management Tips Every College Student Should Know

This booklet is aimed to help young people learn how to take control of their money.

Author(s) Organizational Affiliation
National Endowment for Financial Education.
Publication Year
Resource Type
Instructional Material
Number of Pages
Product Type

This booklet is aimed to help young people learn how to take control of their money. The guide covers topics including checking accounts, financial aid, jobs, living in a dorm or apartment, cutting expenses, credit and debt, and saving and investing money.

Required Training


What the experts say

40 Money Management Tips Every College Student Should Know provides a great framework for discussion and introduction to personal finance issues for the college student. The resource should not be considered as a comprehensive financial education curriculum, but rather as an introductory resource for further review. It can be used by college student support services as a seminar or simply distributed to entering college students as part of orientation materials. The National Emdowment for Financial Education (NEFE) produces quality financial education materials that are closely reviewed and kept current.

Adult education instructors may be particularly interested in using this resource with students who are interested in entering college and want to learn more about the financial aid process. There are also some tips, such as "Protect Your Personal Information" and "Don't Bounce Checks" that can be used withe ABE/GED or ESL students. 

Users of this resource may want to review the NEFE Financial Workshop Kits (College Series) available at http://www.financialworkshopkits.org/workshops/college-series.aspx. This six part series of workshops (with presenter powerpoints) provides a more robust curriculum for workshop presentations on Financial Literacy. An even more vibrant curriculum resource from NEFE is found in their CashCourse for College Students available at www.cashcourse.org/home. As with all NEFE materials, these resources are free for use in schools and educational settings.

In summary, 40 Money Management Tips Every College Student Should Know is a valuable resoure for the purpose that it is intended... an introductory piece on financial education for transitioning students. The pamphlet would be well-used as a hand-out and seminar topic in a a college orientation series across the nation.


"40 Money Management Tips Every College Student Should Know" offers insider information that most have had to learn the hard way -- from trial and error. Especially valuable for those who are first in their extended families to attend college, this booklet sheds light on the subtleties of the college experience and offers guidance on making wise financial choices that will save them money in both the short and long-term. For example, the tip entitled "Compare the Cost of an Apartment with the cost of a Dorm Room" helps weigh the pros and cons of living on or off campus. "Understand Your Student Loan Obligation" lists organizations that can provide loan payoff assistance based upon a chosen field of study. The booklet serves as a useful reminder that the small decisions made initially can have far-reaching implications.

While the tips format makes for a clean lay-out and easy reading, it is not ideal for some of the meatier financial matters. Lighter topics like "Choose the Meal Plan that Works for You" can be adequately covered, but others such as "Saving and Investing Money" merely provide definitions of various investment options (stocks, mutual funds) without advice on how to actually purchase those options. Not to say there isn't some detailed advice: the tip entitled, "Take Control of Your Credit Card" recommends that you "subtract your credit card purchases from your checking account so you'll have enough money to pay the bill in full each month," a simple behavioral change that can save considerable financial grief. Under the tip "Submit a New FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) Every Year", the advice is to apply even if you don't think you qualify: "Your eligibility may be impacted by the smallest change in your family's circumstances." In fact, this booklet tends to be most helpful when it focuses on college-specific financial advice like this.

As usual with NEFE publications, this one is strong on addressing illegal financial practices. Tips entitled "Watch out for Scholarship Scams," "Avoid Credit Card Pushers," and "Protect your Personal Information," helpfully raise awareness of scammers who would prey on students who are often new consumers.

There is some conflicting advice: one tip warns, "Use loans as a last resort," but then allows that taking out a low-interest loan is always better than using a credit card with a high interest rate for major college expenses. Another tip suggests talking to your roommate about "what your policy will be about lending money to each other," and then finishes with "it's probably better not to lend money to your roommate or anyone else." The discrepancies fairly reflect that all circumstances are different and financial decisions are typically not black and white.

Overall, this booklet will serve as an easy-to-digest primer to the financial world of college. Though the financial advice offered is more introductory than in-depth, its insights into college life will definitely help make the transition that much smoother and the outcomes that much more successful.

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