Summer is a powerful time to engage families in the preparation for college. Families of first-generation college students may not know what to expect. Whether they are commuting from home, or moving away, this is a big moment of transition for the whole family. Ask your mentee about family engagement and, if you have a relationship with the family, offer to talk about what they can expect in the months ahead.
College is expensive. Mentees may have spent some time with you during their senior year trying to budget for college expenses. It's one thing to discuss it in the abstract, another to start facing the realities of managing the cost of college.
In addition to tuition, there are many smaller expenses which are due immediately including books, meal plans, and even transportation to get to college. Some of these expenses are one-time (like the cost of getting to school for move-in day), some recur monthly (rent, phone bills, utilities) or each semester (like the cost of books or meal plans).
This is also a good time to look at one particular expense mentees may be facing for the first time: health insurance. Most schools offer a student health plan, which allows qualified, enrolled students to seek medical care on campus. Often this is an affordable option and will be included in a student’s tuition bill. As you and your mentee discuss expenses, be sure to talk about health insurance options. Mentees who are covered under a parent’s plan may be able to stay with their current insurance provider until they’re 26 years old, under the Affordable Care Act, in this case, mentees may choose to opt-out of their school’s health insurance plan. In either case, health insurance is an important consideration for their budget, it’s important that mentees are aware of their options for seeking medical care or counseling.
According to The College Board, the average student at a public 4-year university will spend $1250 on textbooks and supplies in their first year.
Prompts for Communication:
Here are some ideas for questions or conversations starters you can use this month to discuss important and timely topics with your mentee.
- Have you been talking with your family about starting college? How do they react? What questions have they asked you?
- Have there been any people in your family who aren’t supportive of your decision to to college or with the college you’ve chosen? What concerns have they expressed? Let’s think through how we might address those concerns.
- What college expenses have you already started to run into? What other expenses do you see coming down the road? How are you covering these expenses?
- What system are you using to keep track of your budget and expenses?
- What worries do you have about paying all these bills?
- What kind of health care coverage do you have now? What health insurance plan will you have in college?
- Student Health Insurance: To learn more about health insurance coverage options for college students, review these options and requirements.
- The 13 Hidden College Expenses: To learn more about college expenses, including hidden expenses, review this article from Time magazine.
- Helping Your Student Manage Expenses in College: This article provides guidance for how you can talk to your mentee to help them understand money management and begin tackling their own finances.
- Budgeting Apps: If your mentee is ready to start actively tracking their spending and create a budget, it may be useful to review this list of helpful apps and websites for budgeting tools.