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How to talk about money with students who don't want to talk about it

By Catherine Mueller

October 05, 2017

Talking about money can be a sensitive issue.

As financial aid professionals, we have to talk about money every day, but for some students it is a new issue. They may be embarrassed to talk about money, afraid of what will happen if they face financial difficulties, or not sure where how to start a conversation.

As you counsel students, especially those who may be facing financial issues, first assess their situation and understanding of money management prior to meeting with them.

The following checklist can be used to help students to determine what problems or questions they may be facing.

    I completely understand my student loans.
    I am aware of the consequences of default.
    I know how to establish myself financially.
    I balance my checking account regularly.
    I have a budget that works for me.
    I have a healthy savings account.
    I have looked into my investment options.
    I use my credit cards wisely.
    I know how to request a free credit report.
    I understand my credit report.
    I have had problems in the past, but I have cleaned up my credit.
    I know why I should and how to avoid bankruptcy.

Of course, students will need to respond truthfully to all the statements and some statements may not apply to them yet, but the list will serve as starting point to develop a financial management plan.

The checklist is also available online, and can also be used in group discussions about money.