As the upcoming college semester creeps closer and closer, it is time to evaluate how you will support your college-bound child. You may have already written the check for tuition but the question remains: How will you be funding expenses such as rent, books, cell phone, gas and the many other spontaneous purchases that come up in college? Establishing the Bank of Mom and Dad Thanks to the Credit CARD Act, those under the age of 21 won’t be receiving credit cards unless someone is willing to cosign or they can show proof of steady income. Finding the correct checking account seems to offer a better solution for you to support your child entering his or her first year of college. 1. Research banks near home and campus You want to find a bank that services both your home area and the college campus. Full-service branches would be ideal but ATM locations could work as well. You will most likely deposit cash while your son or daughter makes withdrawals. The ideal choice might be one of the major national banks since they are most likely to have branches everywhere. Ease of access is important in the event of an emergency expense. You could deposit cash and the student would have immediate access to the money. An online bank transfer service is also convenient but the typical three business day delay could pose a problem. If campus and home are in the same region, other options include community banks or credit unions. 2. Find a student checking account with check writing and ATM/debit cards The major benefit of a student checking account is that it has the functionality of a regular checking account without account maintenance fees and no or low minimum balance requirements. Check writing would come in handy for rent and school expenses and a debit card offers ATM access along with easy payments. Always read the terms before opening a bank account so that neither the student nor the parent gets hit with unexpected fees and charges. The goal here is to keep checking account costs at an absolute minimum while the student can use the account to pay for what is needed. 3. Open the account with you as a joint account holder If you haven’t noticed already, as the parent, you must have access to the student checking account as well. So, be sure that you get a checkbook and ATM card or debit card as well. These items should be kept in a safe place and should not be used for your own personal reasons. As a joint account holder, you’d also be able to check up on how the student is spending money. You are supporting your child so you might like to know what he or she is buying. If spending becomes out of control or irresponsible, it may be time to pull the plug to the Bank of Mom and Dad. 4. Communication is vital Keep all account holders updated on the transactions occurring within the checking account. Because the account is dedicated to the student, the parent should let the student know when money is taken out or spent. No one wants to deal with an easily avoidable overdraft fee just because the student didn’t know the account balance was low.

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