This is an archived article that was published on in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

When it comes to high school graduation gifts, most students would prefer cold, hard cash. But with the prospect of student loan debt looming for those who go on to college, it may be wise to think twice about what's practical.

To put grads on sound financial footing, here are some ideas:

Cash alternative • Get a gift card from the student bookstore at their prospective university. It lets them use the funds for things they'll really need.

Give a book • A $25 to $50 title on money matters can be more than adequate. Recommendations: The Millionaire Next Door — an easy read that puts young people in the right mind-set for managing money; A Random Walk Down Wall Street — a classic that provides background for graduates interested in investing.

Go old school • Paper U.S. savings bonds are extinct, but can still be purchased in digital form. To give a Series EE or I-electronic savings bond — in amounts starting at $25 — go to the U.S. Treasury website at

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