It’s understandable that parents across the country are beaming with pride when their “baby” girl or boy receives a high school diploma. But that celebration will be short-lived if you are not instilling strong financial principles in your progeny before they move onto a college campus.

Approximately half of the 2000–2014 African-American graduates in the United States matriculated with more than $25,000 in undergraduate student loan debt, according to a Gallup-Purdue Index report. Compare that to only 34 percent of White graduates reporting a similar balance due. It’s clear that getting into and out of a four-year-institution isn’t the only hurdle aspiring young Black professionals face; now, they also must possess a financial prowess that helps them thrive independently after graduation.

Malcolm X once said that education is the passport to the future. It’s important to remember, however, that there is a major difference between going to school and being educated. Learning isn’t confined to the classroom. Some of the most essential skills many students acquire during the pursuit of higher education include independent living, time-management and conflict-resolution proficiency, and much of this happens during the natural maturation process of leaving the security of their parents’ household or neighborhood. There are few places that offer courses that teach the life skills associated with financial competency. Even worse, many parents and elders shy away from having these tough conversations until after a debacle (such as a crazy credit card bill or the realization that a former student’s debt is higher than his or her new annual income).

Read more in the June 2015 issue of EBONY Magazine.