Although the University readily accepts personal checks for payments, local merchants and banks almost always ask to see identification, and they seldom accept out-of-town or third-party checks. However, most merchants will accept local checks as long as you have identification. For this reason, your student will probably want to open an account at a local financial institution as soon as they arrive in Ann Arbor.

There are a variety of financial institutions with branches on or near campus to choose from. Services and fees at banks vary, and students should shop around for the bank that meets their individual needs. The University prepares a survey of bank fees and services to assist students with their banking decisions.

The MCard is the official University of Michigan identification card. It is used as a student ID, as a library card, to gain access to University facilities, and for meal plans in residence halls.

For many students, college is the first time that they take responsibility for their own financial affairs. Parents can help with this adjustment by discussing expectations, setting ground-rules, and educating students about financial responsibility including budgeting, credit cards, and paying bills.

  • Budget — Encourage your student to establish a weekly or monthly budget, including both regular expenses (monthly bills, personal supplies, groceries) as well as the unexpected or infrequent expenses (new clothes, health care expenses, replacing broken/outdated property). Make sure your son or daughter knows how to balance a checking/debit account before he or she arrives on campus.
  • Credit Cards — Many students open credit card accounts when they arrive on campus. Teach your student about the benefits and pitfalls of credit cards. Explain how to accurately compare credit card offers, how to read the fine print, and how to act responsibly when it comes to debt management.
  • Paying Bills — For most students, bills for tuition, phone usage, credit cards, and more will be sent directly to the student's campus address. Your student should be prepared to take responsibility for paying his or her own bills. Teach your student how to accurately read billing statements, how to keep organized so that bills are not paid late, and how to resolve problems if bills are inaccurate.

Students should also explore the Office of Financial Aid's Your Money Your Life financial literacy information to assist with financial decision-making skills, and to help them understand budgeting and financial responsibility.