Parents and Families

Jessica Florey

Does your student know how to live within a budget?  How can students and parents best communicate about money? And how much money does it really take to live in Ann Arbor?  

Senior Jessica Florey (a double major in Psychology & Political Science), has worked for Student Life in the Office of Development, and she has learned a lot about money management during her time at Michigan.

Jessica recommends that students “learn how to keep a budget and stick to it! There will be times when you will probably spend more money than you planned, but there are also easy ways to be money conscious without letting it consume your life.”  In fact, the Office of Financial Aid offers a short video on common money saving strategies for students, including ideas to save - even hundreds of dollars a month.

In comparison to other Midwest and Michigan towns, Ann Arbor is an expensive place to live.  So how much is enough?  Students may have very different financial needs based on whether they’re living in a residence hall or off campus, working a campus job or not, what year they are, and whether they have vehicle expenses or credit card debt.  Some common student expenses include phone bills, snacks, laundry, entertainment and sporting events, toiletries, gifts, groceries, and clothes (from Michigan spirit game day outfits to professional clothes for interviews).

Jessica highly recommends open communication about money between students and parents:  “Talk about things like making a budget and what categories of expenses parents think are important and reasonable. I found these conversations are a lot less awkward than I anticipated.”

And she notes that while “parents are the experts,” they may have something to learn, too.  “Most college students have never had to make a budget and stick to it, so be patient and willing to give advice. It takes time to get used to how much your student will spend. And be aware that the amount of money a parent spent while they were in college may be different!”

Finally, if you’d like some hard data on how much money other parents give their college-aged students, the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research recently released this study on just that topic.

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