Financial Literacy 101: Five Finance Tips for College Students

By:  K. Bernard Tynes, VP – Retail Strategy & Distribution, Penn Community Bank


College students are no strangers to cramming for exams. But if you had to take a test on your financial literacy, how would you do?

The National Financial Educators Council tested over 25,000 15 to 18 year olds to find out, and the results are shocking: of those who took the test, only 50% passed and the average score was just 60%!   As these students head to college or technical training, how will they complete routine financial tasks like balancing their budget or paying bills? Handle the cost of their education and resulting loans? Or even set a course for financial independence after college?

This year, Penn Community Bank is opening a new student- and faculty-only branch at Cairn University to tackle this issue head-on and help students strengthen their financial literacy for their college years and beyond.


Here are the top five ways young adults can cultivate their financial smarts today:


1. Be proactive

The first step to becoming literate in anything is simply taking the initiative to learn. Take the time to educate yourself about your finances and map out your financial landscape. Leaning on the pros at your local bank can be a huge help in finding tools and services to help you be proactive. In addition to a network of team members who are here to help you with any questions you may have, Penn Community Bank offers services to help you understand your financial situation and help simplify your banking experience.


2. Know the playing field

Finances or how they impact you don’t always seem like the most exciting topic; just as often, finances can be intimidating or uncomfortable to talk about. Luckily, there are plenty of apps, blogs and online resources you can look to for a sense of awareness about the economy and find approachable tips on managing your own funds. In the long run, your ability to understand important and updated financial innovations and processes will allow for smarter saving and investing.


3. Budget

Budget! BUDGET!—Budgeting is crucial to maximizing your money and helps you distinguish between wants and needs. With needs budgeted and out of the way, you’re left with an understanding of exactly how much you have to spend on things you want. Equally important, you realize how much you must work or save for these things. A well-maintained and utilized budget makes it easy to follow your money in and out, prioritize spending and meet your half of the rent payment.


4. Track your accounts

It’s essential to check your accounts and bank statements often and diligently; a budget only works if the funds are really there. But don’t worry—this previously tedious task is made simple thanks to new technology available to you as a customer. Mobile banking allows you to access your account at any time of the day, transfer funds, pay bills, deposit money and track your history from your phone with ease.


5. Make your bank your partner

You don’t have to feel like you’re on your own in working through your financial literacy efforts: make your bank your partner. If you’re an account holder with Penn Community Bank, then you already have access to some great tools and resources like online and mobile banking, Popmoney to easily transfer money for bills or splitting your rent and Common Sense Savings to help you save by automatically rounding up purchases on your debit card and sending the difference directly to your savings. If you don’t have a relationship with Penn Community Bank, stop by any branch or check us out at to learn more about teaming up.


Success for college graduates means much more than a well-paying job; it’s a measure of how they economically mange themselves. By taking Penn Community Bank’s financial resources and knowledgeable team members to campus, we’re working to increase financial literacy for the next generation and beyond.