Student: Teen & College Age

You may still rely on financial help from your parents or other family members, but itís not too early to start developing sound money-management habits.  Many financially sound adults accomplished their goals through careful planning that began when they were students.

How can you start on the path to sound money management? 

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Learn to manage money and prepare for the cost of higher education

1. Become a Super Saver

Learning to save money in your teens and college years is an excellent habit that will train you be a good money manager for the rest of your life.  Set goals for your money and start saving NOW.  If you have no immediate goals, your goal can be to have a ďmoney cushionĒ for when an important need for cash occurs.  When you participate in the purchase of the things you want and/or need, it helps build self esteem, respect and independence.

Blackhawk Bankís Youth Savings Account will get you on your way.  Promise to ďpay yourself firstĒ Ė that is, deposit as much as you can into savings from money that you either earn, or receive as a gift.  Open your account with as little as $50.00 and begin earning quarterly interest.

When youíre under 18, a parent or legal guardian has to come to the bank with you to open a Youth Savings Account.  When youíre 18+ you may open a savings account on your own.

2. Start a Checking Account

A checking account provides a means to learn how to responsibly handle money, make smart financial decisions and keep track of your spending records.  Whether you use a debit card or paper checks, your checking account can help you manage a budget, including paying your bills on time and balancing your checkbook.  With these good habits, you can start building a good credit reputation NOW.    

Beginning at age 13, students may open a checking account with the co-signature of a parent, and you need to do this together at the bank. Edge Teen Checking will help get you on the ďedge of successĒ by learning how to manage your first checking account and optional Debit Card.   You and your parents can discuss your account options and come to the bank for additional guidance.  When you're 18 you may open a checking account on your own.

3. Plan in Advance for College

Itís never too early for pre-college students and their families to identify and earmark the financial resources they have available to fund a college educationówhether from savings, loans, grants, scholarships or work income.  

Blackhawk Bank will guide you to several options to help you fund the cost of higher education.   Itís OK to start small, but start now with a college savings plan that both you and your parents can contribute to.  Here's a handy Saving for College Workbook that you can open and view, or print to have as a ready reference. 

529 Plan
A 529 Plan is an education savings plan operated by a state or educational institution designed to help families set aside funds for future college costs. Itís named after Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code which created these types of savings plans in 1996.  To learn about a 529 Plan (and other college savings plans) you should meet with an Investment Advisor.  Blackhawk Personal Bankers can introduce you to the 529 Plan professionals located in our Investment Centers

Private Student Loans 
Blackhawk Bank has partnered with Sallie Mae® to offer the Smart Option Student Loan®.  Itís an ideal solution to help bridge that gap between federal loans and the cost of your education expenses. These loans have the advantages of a lower interest rate and can be repaid over a longer time period than standard consumer loans.   Learn more @

US Government EE Savings Bonds 
EE Bonds are reliable, low-risk government-backed savings products that you can use toward financing education and other special events.   Log onto to learn more.  The US Treasury only offers the purchase of Bonds online.

Federal Financial Aid for Higher Education (FAFSA)  
All college applicants and their parents or guardians should become familiar with the most recent FAFSA guidelines and deadlines which can be found at  Applications for federal student aid may also be available from your high school counselors, public library or college financial aid office.   

4. Financial Tips for Students Heading Off To College

Hereís what you should know before you head off to college, and what to do to avoid wrecking your credit.  Young adults donít start out with a top credit score, and that score will fall if you mishandle debt and don't live within your means.  You must build your credit score through a history of timely repayments on borrowed money.

Blackhawk Bank has developed a Guide to Developing Great Credit and a Budget Workbook.  View them here, download and print, or stop by any office to pick up your free copy. 

Consider the following financial tips:

A credit card is the quickest and most effective way to start a credit profile.  However, if you donít know how to manage a basic budget; be very careful.  If you donít think you are ready, itís better to find a pre-paid or secured card that reports activity to the credit agencies (it will say so on the application, or just ask your banker).  If you think you are ready, you will be better off choosing from among the best-suited student credit cards.

Use credit cards wisely.  A credit card opens all kinds of ways to damage your score.  Never miss a payment.  Pay in full if you can.  If you must carry a balance, it wonít hurt you unless your balance is relatively large.  Never charge more than 50% of your credit limit and preferably keep it closer to 10%.  And donít apply for more than one card at once or with high frequency.

Get another form of credit.  Having different kinds of debt helps your score.  An auto loan or personal loan or some other installment loan debt can help.  It may even help to have a second but different kind of card, like a gas card or department store card.  In some cases, buying furniture or an appliance on monthly terms can help.  But you will have to ask the finance company if they report to the credit bureaus.  

Pay all bills on time.  If you live off campus, paying the cable bill or electric bill or even the monthly plan for a new desk or TV is a must.  It wonít do much to build your score.  But if you slack off and get referred to a collection agency itís a major ding on your score.

Donít close an unused card account.  This is counterintuitive; canceling a card can lower your score because it leaves you with less overall credit and instantly raises the percentage of debt capacity you are using.  A long credit history is part of what makes for a high credit score.  So keep those older accounts and make sure they are in good standing.

The ďFreshman 15Ē Financial Tips

  1. Build and follow a realistic budget and keep a record of expenses.
  2. Fully understand the cost of borrowing before you sign for loans.
  3. Protect yourself from fraud or identity theft and get a free yearly credit report. Young adults are at greater risk for not being aware of fraudulent activity because they donít usually come to a bank as often to meet with bankers to receive financing on cars, a mortgage, etc. where they would have their credit checked.
  4. Watch out for account fees. Know your account details like overdraft charges, interest rates, withdrawal restrictions, minimum balances, etc.
  5. Start getting in the habit of saving money and establishing financial goals. Pay yourself first.
  6. Take advantage of cost saving and credit building opportunities for living off campus. A Kiddie Condo Loan through the FHA has a low interest rate and only 3.5% down payment. The student applies as the primary borrower, and parents are co-mortgagers. This builds credit for the student, and provides additional equity and cost savings for parents.
  7. Take advantage of opportunities to trim expenses. Use student discounts. Use shopping lists to cut down on impulse purchases. Donít take a car to campus if itís not absolutely needed.
  8. Use credit cards wisely. Be selective as possible when applying for a card and donít apply for more than one or two cards to protect your credit score.
  9. Pay bills on time. Set up reminders or automatic payments.
  10. Research savings and checking accounts that will be the best fit for your financial situation.
  11. Identify credible services and experts (bank, finance dept. at college, etc.) who can assist you if you encounter a financial crisis. The sooner you address the problem, the better.
  12. Prioritize your debt repayment (car loan, credit card debt, student loans) to pay off highest interest debts first.
  13. Consider options for debt consolidation to receive a lower interest rate.
  14. Take advantage of financial literacy programs offered at your college or through your bank.
  15. Set up online banking to help you manage your finances anywhere, anytime. Use alerts to keep you from overdrawing your account. Notify your bank, card and loan issuers immediately if you move.
5. Community College & Technical Ed Lead to Local Careers

Community College & Technical Ed Lead to Local Careers
When considering your career goals and your journey through the halls of higher education, keep in mind the considerable cost-savings youíll realize by attending a local community college or technical campus. Numerous programs are available locally that teach specific skill-sets in manufacturing, aeronautics and health care that can lead to stability and career success right here in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. These fields have been identified as having a shortage of skilled workers who can perform vital services in secure and lucrative positions.

Post Secondary Skills Training Opportunities
The Rock River Region as long been a leading national manufacturing center, and in spite of declines in the number of jobs, there are sub-sectors within manufacturing with projected increases.  For the manufacturing sector, critical shortage occupations identified include CNC programmers, CNC operators, machinists, and welders, all of which require post secondary education and training. Locally, private and public entities share a commitment to offering skills training so there is a continuous pipeline of skilled workers.

Fabricators & Manufacturers Association International Certified Education Centers
Manufacturing firms across the country are finding it increasingly difficult to find, hire, and retain the skilled workers they need. In an effort to assist in work force development, FMA partners with educational institutions and companies across the US in an expanding network of Certified Education Centers. A Certified Education Center (CEC) is recognized by FMA to offer exemplary programs, facilities, and instruction. Along with FMA, these educational institutions are engaged in a mission to interest today's youth in pursuing careers in the metal forming and fabricating industry.
Rock Valley College
3301 N Mulford Rd., Rockford, IL 61114

CNC related degrees offered: Automated Manufacturing, Tool & Die Apprentice
Rock Valley College
3301 N Mulford Rd., Rockford, IL 61114

Courses related to: Basic machining practice, shop math, blueprint reading, computer aided design, computer aided manufacturing, 3d programming, CNC manual programming, set-up and operation
CNC Vocational Certificates (non-degree)
Lab equipment:
Machine types: Haas Vert. MC & Sl-20 Lathes
Control types: Haas
CAD system/s: Featurecam, Mastercam, Unigraphics
CAM system/s: Unigraphics, Autocad, Solidworks
DNC systems (distributed numerical control) for networking CNC machine tools

TECHWORKS is at the EIGERlab in Rockford, Illinois which is dedicated to training and improving individual manufacturing skills. CNC Training is offered through a Fast-Track 96 hour program and prepares students for rewarding job placement in advanced manufacturing. 
605 Fulton Ave. Rockford, IL 61103    

Blackhawk Technical Institute 
Central Campus: 6004 South County Road G, Janesville, WI 53546-9458
(608) 758-6900

The CNC two-year technical diploma program is designed to provide students with a broad technical background in both job-shop and production machining. Topics of study include Computer Numerical Control (CNC) programming; Computer Assisted Manufacturing (CAM) software; precision measuring devices including a CMM; precision CNC mills, CNC training and machining centers; blueprint reading; and applied shop mathematics. To complete the program, an intern-ship is required.

Career Outlook:  Job opportunities continue to look good for CNC Technicians, as employers continue to report difficulties in finding workers with the necessary skills and knowledge to fill machining and CNC programming openings. Many job openings will arise each year from the need to replace experienced CNC machinists and programmers who retire.

Aeronautics has experienced robust revitalization and redevelopment in northern Illinois. The Rockford area has more than 80 aerospace companies, and a skilled workforce is vital to the industry. 

Rock Valley College Aviation Maintenance Technology

RVCís program provides the first two years of a baccalaureate program for those wishing to pursue a four-year degree in Aviation Technology. Evening class options are available for working students. RVC graduates are employed with local, regional and national general aviation maintenance facilities, airlines and manufacturers.

RVC graduates receive preferential admission status when applying to the BS in Aviation Management Technology program at Northern Illinois University-Rockford. Graduates with the Associate of Applied Science in Aviation Maintenance Technology assume positions as airline or general aviation engine and/or airframe mechanics. The program is certified to provide instruction leading to FAA Airframe and Power Plant certificate exams.
For more information visit, or call (815) 921-3020.

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Worldwide Advanced Aviation Specialization

Embry Riddle Aeronautical University-Worldwide is partnering with RVC and NIU to enhance aviation education and broaden programs already in place.

ERAU-W is bringing its Master of Aeronautical Science Degree, Bachelor of Science in Professional Aeronautics, and Bachelor of Science in Technical Management to Rockford. Students learn to master the application of concepts, methods and tools used in the development, manufacture and operation of aircraft and spacecraft, as well as the infrastructure supporting them.

ERAU-W offers areas of specialization including aeronautics, education technology, aerospace management, operations, safety systems, human factors in aviation systems, space studies and space operations management.

The program focuses academic efforts on current employment positions or future opportunities. Students pursue multiple specializations to broaden academic credentials.

For more information, visit

Northern Illinois University Rockford Aviation Management Technology

Take your Associate of Applied Science in Aviation Maintenance Technology degree to the next level by earning a Bachelor of Science in Technology degree at NIU-Rockford, completing NIUís rigorous Industrial Management component.

NIUís four-year degree program was developed specifically for RVC students by NIUís Department of Technology - Aviation Management Technology emphasis.  Flexible class options are available for working students.
For more information visit or call (815) 753-1349.


With advancements in the healthcare industry, Health and Medical degrees have become very popular among students looking for future job security. Today, employers have a difficult time finding well-trained, experienced healthcare workers. Aided by technology and medical innovation, our regionís greatest projected growth field, Healthcare, requires highly trained workers with post secondary degrees or certificates.  Local training centers include:

Rock Valley College
Registered Nurse
Licensed Practical Nurse
Certified Nursing Assistant
Rehabilitation Careers
Respiratory Care
Medical Laboratory Science
Emergency Medical Services
Surgical Technology
Medical Imaging/Radiation Therapy
Dental Hygiene
Health Information Management
Sleep Laboratory
Athletic Training / Sports Medicine
Womenís and Childrenís Health

3301 North Mulford Road, Rockford, IL 61114
(815) 921-7821 toll free: (800) 973-7821

Blackhawk Technical Institute
Associate Degree Nursing
Clinical Laboratory Technician
Diagnostic Medical Sonography
Physical Therapist Assistant
Advanced Dental Assistant 
Medical Assistant
Nursing Assistant
Phlebotomy Technician

6004 South County Road G, Janesville, WI 53546-9458
(608) 758-6900


  • Set a savings goal and keep track of your progress.
  • If you have a job, donít spend everything you make.  Pay your savings account first!
  • Record ALL your transactions daily for your checking and savings accounts, whether they are made with debit or credit cards or paper checks and deposit slips.
  • Know your account details such as overdraft charges, interest rates,
    withdrawal restrictions, minimum balances, etc.

You can do this! Start making smart choices with your money during your Student Life Stage.  Call 800.209.2616 and ask for a Personal Banker.  Weíre here to help. 


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