July and August is a time when many college bound students are busy hitting the department stores in their pursuit of decorating their future dorm room. A lot of time is spent putting the dorm room together but there are other items that need to be thought about before they leave in September.
Many of your children will be eighteen when they leave for school in September. This means that your child is now considered an adult and you will lose the legal ability to make decisions on their behalf. What does this mean as a parent? It means that you really have no right to see their grades, make medical decisions or speak with their doctor.
Can you do anything about this?
We have often talked about having your child be accountable for their educational process. This means an open discussion of the cost of the education as well as realistic expectations about future grades. Some new college situation require more hand holding than others, especially in the their transition to college life. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act is a federal law that deals with the privacy of a student’s educational records. Parents can obtain a FERPA release so that they are able to speak to their child’s college about their educational record. Before this is obtained you will need your child’s permission. Call the college your child will be attending to find out if they have a specific form. It is often available under the student’s online college portal login. In divorce or separated situations, the non-custodial parent may have a harder time getting this access.
Medically, your child will be getting the appropriate boosters so that they can enter college. It is recommended that you have a signed HIPAA authorization form for the student. What you need to do is have the HIPPA Authorization signed by your child giving your permission to speak to their doctor’s if they should get sick while they are away at college. It is important to be able to get access to their health records in case you need it.
Another medical form that you may want to consider signing is called HCPOA or Health Care Power of Attorney. Hopefully, you will never need this while your child is away at school. The HCPOA will allow a parent to be named as the individual who will have the power to act on their adult child’s behalf if they are sick and incapable of making decisions themselves. Please see your family lawyer for this information.
This summer, many of the college bound students have gone to their freshman orientation. As part of that orientation the college will typically have a bank that is on campus. Orientation is a good time to set up a bank account using the most convenient bank or ATM on campus. This is done for three major reasons: safety, convenience and avoidance of bank fees. Often times the banks has special student bank accounts that are designed for the college student and gives parents access to transfer money.
You and your child have spent a lot of time and money getting all the physical items needed to make a successful transition to college. Whether you child is in the dorm or an off campus apartment you should consider protecting their property. Check and see if your homeowner’s will cover their possessions or if you need further coverage. The new computer equipment can be expensive if you need to replace it. Make sure you review the cost and deductibles before purchasing these policies.
Another insurance issue that if often overlooked but could save you a little money is car insurance. Most freshmen are not allowed a car on campus. If you child will not be taking a car you may want to check if a discount on your auto rate is eligible while they are living at school. There is normally a distance requirement to get that college student discount.
College is a great time of learning and growing. It is a time as parents that we should be proud of their continued accomplishments. A little pre-planning on your part can give you the peace of mind that unforeseen problems will have solutions.