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Class for parents on talking to students about personal finance

The University is offering a new course for parents who want to talk to their student about financial responsibility. Financial experts agree that this is a discussions families should have before students leave home for college, the Star Tribune reports:

[M]any parents are nervous about teaching teens about credit cards because they aren't confident about it themselves, said Paul D. Jones, president and CEO of Minneapolis-based Jones Marketing Group and author of "What You and Your Kids Need to Know About Credit."

No financial expert, including Jones, thinks every teenager should have a credit card. There are plenty of reasons to be leery. Eighty percent of high school seniors have never taken a personal finance class and more than a quarter of them have bounced a check, according to a survey of 5,775 teens done by the nonprofit JumpStart Coalition for Financial Literacy.

A 2004 study at the University of Minnesota showed that the number of students who do not pay off their credit-card balances each month ranged from 13 percent for freshmen to 64 percent for fifth-year seniors. The study also showed that excessive credit card debt was a stress factor for about 14 percent of students.

It's a domino effect, said David Golden, director of public health and marketing at the "U." As credit-card debt goes up, so does smoking, high-risk drinking and the number of hours worked outside of class. Debt goes up and GPA goes down, he said. Those findings were the primary reason that the university decided not to allow credit-card solicitations on campus.

While some campuses don't allow credit-card companies on campus, that doesn't stop applications that arrive by mail. Defying logic, they don't require income verification, credit history or a co-signer. Fifty-six percent of college freshmen acquire a credit card, and many of those students' parents don't realize their teens have credit cards, said Nathan Dungan, founder of Share Save Spend, a business to help youths and adults adopt healthy financial habits.

The course is available to parents of current University of Minnesota students at no charge. Parents can take the course online at their own convenience. To sign up, send an e-mail to parent@umn.edu. Please indicate the course you are registering for (there is another course available on students and alcohol use), as well as your student's name and his or her University ID number or birth date. We will not maintain any record of your student's identification, but we need it to confirm U of M enrollment in order to provide you access to the course. After we confirm your student's enrollment, we will send you instructions on accessing the course.