Terry Savage: Off to college

Terry Savage, Tribune Content Agency on

—Use the website, where paid college internships are posted and matched.

—Search for off-campus housing to save money on room and board. Fewer colleges require dorm living since the COVID-19 pandemic.

—Buy used textbooks and plan to sell them back to pay for next year’s books.

—Wait to buy technology until you arrive on campus and check out the student discounts, which can be far better than your local stores.

Parents, it may come as a shock, but once your student is age 18, you have no right to learn about their grades or to request any medical information or any disciplinary records — even if you are paying their tuition and student loans!

Suggestion: Have your suddenly adult child sign both a medical and business power of attorney. You can easily find the forms with an internet search of “power of attorney for college students.”

Even if you have the financial plan in place to pay for college, have you worked with your child to discuss a budget and how you will handle/distribute money for living expenses, beyond what is paid to the school? Expenses for books and fees, as well as dining out and the inevitable purchases at the school bookstore, can really add up.

You could start with a reloadable debit card, depositing an “allowance” every month. This card won’t build a credit rating but will teach money management. Search for a reloadable debit card with no ATM fees at


Or start with a “secured” credit card in the student’s name — a card that doesn’t require a credit history. The credit limit is the amount deposited into a savings account, and parents can add to the balance monthly. Prompt payment will build a credit score for the student. One example is the “Discover It” secured card at

One other reminder for parents: You might be considering a home equity loan as a last, desperate resort for making the dream of college happen. But rates on home equity loans float — likely higher. Many are interest-only, with a balloon at the end — just when your child is graduating and student loan payments come due. Even worse, interest on money for college borrowed on a home equity loan is not deductible.

This year, the last-minute college financial crunch is made more difficult by the surge in inflation. Everything costs more than you had budgeted or even imagined. You’d better plan for it now. And that’s The Savage Truth.


(Terry Savage is a registered investment adviser and the author of four best-selling books, including “The Savage Truth on Money.” Terry responds to questions on her blog at

©2022 Terry Savage. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.




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