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Help Your Teen Stay Debt Free in College

Hon. John C. Ninfo

June 04, 2008

Help Your Teen Stay Debt Free in College

Talk About the Consequences

The problem won’t be just the excessive interest they will pay and the many fees, like overlimit and late payment fees of as much as $50. Students with credit card debt may be faced with the possibility of losing out on admission to graduate school, a job or an apartment.

Or, debt could contribute to them dropping out of school. Robert Manning, author of Credit Card Nation, estimates that seven to 10 percent of college students will drop out because of credit problems.

Students often find themselves in debt that they are too embarrassed to tell their parents about, and they can’t figure out how to pay it. They get jobs, work more hours, and their grades begin to suffer. That brings academic problems, too. Soon, it becomes too overwhelming.

Please make sure your teens are armed with all of the knowledge, lessons, tactics and techniques they will need to successfully avoid a financial meltdown in college!

To stay debt free, your teen must:

1. Create a realistic budget so they know what they have to spend and won’t spend more than they have.
2. Always have savings for an emergency. They shouldn’t rely on credit cards.
3. Use cash, a debit card or a check as much as possible, so they will spend less.
4. Pay cash for items under $10 or that they can eat or drink.
5. If they do have a credit card, they should have only one, and only charge things they can pay for on time to avoid interest or fees.
6. Stop charging if they find themselves in debt, and pay off as much as possible every month.

Hon. John C. Ninfo is a Chief U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge. For more credit-related articles, budgeting tips and a handout on the real cost of credit, visit his Credit Abuse Resistance Education (CARE) Program Web site at

Article reprinted with permission from Next Step Magazine.

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