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LOVE'EM AND LEAVE'EM: FINANCIAL ADVICE FOR THE COLLEGE-BOUND PARENT

LOVE'EM AND LEAVE'EM: FINANCIAL ADVICE FOR THE COLLEGE-BOUND PARENT
 READING, Penn., Aug. 31 /PRNewswire/ -- The following is by Joe Pendleton, senior vice president for electronic banking/ADVANTAGE debit card product manager of Meridian Bancorp:
 Would one of our daughters be the first female president? Or walk on Mars? Or develop a cure for the common cold? Tht's what I remember thinking when my wife and I began our first savings account for our girls -- dreaming of the day we would send them to college.
 While we anxiously hoped for these college days, we still had a lot of questions. How would our daughter manage her new-found independence? Would she study? Would she cut herself loose from our financial umbilical cord? Or would she call home regularly, echoing the familiar refrain to please send money?
 Imagine our delight when, more than 10 years later, our oldest daughter began her college career. We packed. We drove. We had a dream. But as we pulled into her dorm parking lot, our dream became a realization as startling as the "music" blaring from every narrow stairwell and every open window. Scrimping and saving, nagging about application deadlines, and generally moving heaven and earth to get her into college was the easy part. Getting her into her room -- now, that would be the hard part.
 While my daughter was dancing down the dorm halls, my wife and I perfected our own version of the "orientation two-step" -- running a gauntlet of elbows and "excuse-me's" -- shoulder to shoulder with dozens of other glass-eyed parents. In the glassy eyes, I saw many of the same questions about academic and financial independence that we had.
 This year we have another daughter packing Pop Tarts and Hot Pots for her first semester. And this year, we're ready.
 While most parents will continue to serve by standing and waiting -- and waiting -- in line to open accounts for their children at the only bank within walking distance of campus, or by dodging the many credit card peddlers who seemed to be hiding around every corner, we will be well underway with our lecture on financial independence and checking account management.
 To help cut the bank line and to satisfy our anxiety about financial independence, this year, amid the pre-college, we advised our daughter to get a debit card. This card would enable her to make purchases at school using her checking and savings accounts from her bank at home. This step helped us avoid one more line at orientation and at the same time helped our daughter to manage her home-based checking and savings accounts from her dorm room at college. Before we leave for college, she will deposit her summer-job earnings into her checking and interest- bearing savings accounts which came with a debit card.
 The debit card is a plastic check and an automatic teller machine (ATM) card in one. Debit cards like Meridian Bank's ADVANTAGE card are accepted at all VISA locations on and off campus as well at teller machines that are, in Meridian's case, on the MAC, MOST and NYCE systems. Our daughter can use the debit card instead of a check, anywhere she used to use our Visa card -- like the college bookstore, the "cool" campus restaurants that don't honor food plans, or the campus pub that, she assures me, only serves milk. Since the card takes funds directly from her checking account, she rarely has to write a check and, best of all, she doesn't have to balance a checking account at home and another one at school. Of course, we made sure she knew that the card automatically takes money from her savings account if her checking account is running on empty. And, to keep those accounts on full, there are no ATM transaction fees which can cost as much as $1.50 for each $5 or $10 withdrawals she makes to satisfy her cravings for a burger and fries.
 Like our shell-shocked peers, we will still spend hours lugging computers, teeny refrigerators, food that only a teenager could eat, and a wardrobe fit for my daughter and 200 of her closest friends, up and down more flights of stairs that could possibly be recommended by the American Heart Association.
 And, we'll relearn what it means to wait in a line. Parents beware. College orientation means lines -- lines for books, lines for registration and lines for bank accounts.
 However, this time we will go to college with the knowledge that our muscles and patience will eventually recover -- but the memory will never fade.
 Well, we'll start loading the U-haul this week. But this year, we'll be cutting one line. Our daughter has her own dreams, access to her money and we have a message for every back-to-school parent: Run! Or, walk. But get to the bank before the big day to save hours in line later. And you might consider weight training...
 P.S. For added financial security, we also arranged overdraft protection for her debit card to the account that my wife and I share. Psst, that's a secret. College is about independence, right?
 -0- 8/31/92 R
 /EDITOR'S NOTE: Photos of Joe Pendleton are available/
 /CONTACT: Christine Reimert of Meridian Bancorp, 215-732-4100/ CO: Meridian Bancorp, Inc. ST: Pennsylvania IN: FIN SU:


LD-TM -- NYFNS1 -- 4954 08/31/92 12:17 EDT
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Date:Aug 31, 1992
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