College offers so many great opportunities for success and failure. Here are some tips to help secure financial success:

—Find a local bank and get a no-frills (read FREE) checking account. It’s not necessary to buy checks or a debit card bearing your college logo.

—Understand your transaction limits. Apply for overdraft protection just in case of an emergency. Note: An emergency is not a meal out with friends.

Do whatever you can to avoid overdraft fees. Some banks can charge up to $35 per overdraft. Sign up for text alerts to get balance notifications.

If your bank charges a fee for using an ATM, get cash back at the grocery store or gas station instead.

The promise of a free T-shirt is not a good reason to apply for a credit card. Credit card companies target college campuses and sign up students who really cannot afford to carry credit card debt. If you do get a credit card, be sure to know the annual fee, interest rate and payment due date. Not paying off the balance each time leads to additional interest; not paying on time leads to bigger issues.

—Keep an eye on your FICO score, which is based on your payment history on any loans or credit cards, the amount of credit you have and the number of times you have applied for credit. With a range of 350-850, the higher the number, the better the interest rate you’ll get on future loans. Remember, derogatory credit can stay on your credit report for seven – sometimes 10 – years.

—Look for ways to save money. If you have a college meal plan, use it. Eating out is expensive.

—Coupons can be cool. Look for apps that have deals at restaurants and shops in your area.


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