Smart Ways to Prepare For College in 2020

Jul 20, 2020

Preparing for college can be a big transition for students and parents. This year students are facing new challenges as the coronavirus pandemic pushes many schools to fully online or hybrid classes. Before you and your kids get ready for college, you’ll need to do some basic planning to help ensure a successful college experience!

Gear up for online classes

This year students can prepare for more online classes and new social distancing measures by checking their college's website frequently for updates. Before classes start, students should acquire all the necessary technology they might need to complete online courses successfully and research school resources before problems arise.

Research possible college majors

Students should start thinking about what they might like to study in preparation to select courses. Take the time to explore what type of academic advising programs are at your university.

Know where to go for academic help

Incoming students should be aware that many colleges have office hours dedicated to helping students if they’re having difficulty in a class or who just want to speak with a professor one-on-one. School libraries can also offer knowledgeable staff and study resources to help students.

Keep in touch with the financial aid office

There are options to get help to pay for college. Financial aid appeals requesting more aid may become more common as American families experience unemployment and reduced work hours resulting from the economic impacts of the coronavirus outbreak. Stay in touch with the financial aid office and ask for more financial support if it's needed.

Open a checking account to track expenses

Although you might not use many actual checks anymore, a checking account is still the best way to manage your money and ensure you’re not spending more than you have. The Police Credit Union offers a checking account with no monthly service fees or minimum balance requirements, and you can access your account and make purchases with your debit card. Plus, with any monthly recurring deposit, you can get reimbursed for ATM fees* charged by other banks/credit unions. You can also enroll in our Online Banking platform and download our mobile banking app for 24/7 access—use our free mobile deposit service to deposit checks from your smartphone!

Create a budget and stick to it

Many students operate with a fixed income, between scholarships, grants, loans and college savings, which can make setting a monthly budget easy. After you pay for tuition, textbooks, room and board, divide your remaining funds to create your total monthly budget. Then, make a list of everything you’ll spend money on each month, cell phone, eating out, gas, etc and categorize your spending into “needs” and “wants.” Add up your necessities and subtract that from your monthly budget, and you’ll get your discretionary budget.

Educate yourself about fees

Unnecessary fees can really add up. In addition to finding a checking account without hidden fees, make sure you know how much your financial institution charges for things like overdrafts.

An easy way to keep track of your spending, avoid fees and protect yourself from fraud is to set up automated alerts through Online Banking with The Police Credit Union. You can customize your transaction alerts when checks clear, money is deposited/withdrawn, your debit card is used, or you don’t have sufficient funds to cover a purchase. Our online budgeting tool, MoneyTrac, takes the guesswork out of budgeting and allows you to set up spending goals with a single click.

*The Police Credit Union will refund ATM surcharges up to $3 per out-of-network ATM transaction until further notice. Checking account is required for rebates.

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