Here are 10 things your student shouldn’t leave for college without. (pixabay.com)
College is an exciting time for students and their families, but there’s also a lot to worry about.
You’ve probably done a lot of planning and research about financial aid, dormitories and academics, but there are some little things – incredibly important things – you might be forgetting.
Don’t let your kid go to college without these 10 things.
It’s time for your young adult to know the basics of health insurance. (pixabay.com)
1. Health insurance know-how
Most colleges offer certain services to students for free, but that won’t be enough for most healthcare needs – especially for emergencies.
Your student’s college may require the student purchase health insurance provided by the campus, and depending on your situation, this may be a smart buy.
Even if the student is on your plan, coverage may not be enough if the student goes to college in a different state. The possible need for out-of-network care could get very expensive.
Before you decide, call your insurance company and figure out how the student’s bills would be covered. If it’s not enough, take a closer look at the insurance offered by the school.
If you go for the college’s plan, you probably shouldn’t remove the student from your family plan. If the student will need coverage during vacations or summer breaks, or even after graduation, you won’t want to wait for an open enrollment period and risk a time period with no coverage.
Make sure your student understands what services are available from the college – including mental health services – and when she will have to look off campus for care using your insurance.
Give her a primer on co-pays, deductibles and the rest of it, and make sure she has her own insurance card.
And if your child is planning a semester abroad, find out what coverage is available and consider purchasing a worldwide plan for those overseas months.
Make sure your student knows where to get medical and dental care. (pixabay.com)
2. A list of local providers
While out-of-state students will be able to have annual check-ups when they go home for the summer, medical needs may not conform to the times when they’re home.
Think of a nasty and painful toothache. Why take on the expense of traveling home when there’s probably a qualified dentist near campus?
So plan ahead. Before students arrive on campus, they should have a list of local care providers they may need. This way in an emergency, the student won’t be saddled with finding a provider who takes your insurance.
Your student will need legal documents to permit you to act on his behalf. (pixabay.com)
3. Durable power of attorney and healthcare proxy
When your student was a minor, you, as the parent, had the right to receive information about the student’s medical care and you were authorized to make medical decisions on the student’s behalf.
Once your child is a grown up, you lose those rights.
That’s why it’s essential for your student to sign durable power of attorney and healthcare proxy documents.
Hopefully you’ll never need to use them, but accidents happen, and well, college kids do stupid things sometimes.
Create a spending plan together so your student can budget for expenses throughout the semester. (pixabay.com)
4. A spending plan
While you’ve probably talked a lot about how to pay tuition, students need to have a plan for other expenses. Paying for textbooks. Pizza money. Toothpaste and shampoo.
Whether your child plans to work during the semester for spending money or if he’s already banked cash from a summer job, or whether you plan to give the student an allowance, it’s time to have a sit-down to discuss how the money will be spent.
Create an estimated budget looking at all possible expenses, and look closely at discretionary costs. For example, even if your student has a meal plan, there may be times he wants to eat out with friends. Figure out what you can afford and make a plan.
Sure, unexpected costs may come up, but that’s why it’s so important to stay on track with the expected ones.
Have a plan to get extra cash to your student in emergencies. (pixabay.com)
5. A money back-up plan
Even with the best prepared budget, there may be times when Junior calls home to ask for more money.
One of the easiest ways to transfer funds to your student is to have a linked bank account. Go with your student to your bank and he can open up a student checking account with a debit card. Then have the bank link that account to yours.
When you log in to your accounts, the student’s account will appear there, too. If you set it up right, the student won’t have access to your information, but you’ll be able to see the student’s account activity and balances.
And you can easily transfer money from your account to his.
If used sparingly, a credit card is a great way for a student to build a good credit score. (pixabay.com)
6. A credit card
College is a terrific time for a student to begin to build a solid credit history – as long as the student can display some discipline.
Help the student select one credit card with a low available balance. The student can use the card for a couple of regular expenses each month – expenses accounted for in your budget.
Teach the student how paying on time, every time, will help build a strong credit score.
By the time the student graduates, assuming he is responsible with the card, he will have a decent credit history that will help him get an apartment, a car loan and other future borrowing.
Check to see if you need a separate insurance policy to cover your student’s belongings when he’s at school. (pixabay.com)
7. Renter’s insurance
Put in a call to your homeowner’s insurance company to find out how and if your student’s possessions will be covered by your policy when she moves into a college dorm. Most policies will give coverage, but you want to make sure it’s not limited.
If it isn’t as comprehensive as you’d like, consider buying an additional renter’s policy. These are very inexpensive and you can tailor how much coverage you want.
If the student is living in an apartment instead of a dorm, she’ll definitely need a renter’s policy.
Create a file so the student can access important information. (pixabay.com)
8. An emergency list
This is simple. Create a shared online document that has all the student’s essential information so you can both access it. Don’t rely on your student’s cell phone – it could be lost or stolen.
The list should include the student’s bank and credit card account numbers and how to contact the bank should the cards be lost or stolen.
It should also include important college contact information, such as a student ID number and account information for financial aid and student loans. You’ll want this to be easy to find.
This is also a great place to add important phone numbers for any relatives or family friends your student may need to contact in an emergency. It could be Grandma, Aunt Susan, or Mr. Smith from down the block. You never know if your student may need to step in to help you someday.
See if you can find a trusted adult nearby to help your student in emergencies. (pixabay.com)
9. A local buddy
If your student is going to college far from home, see if you can find a friendly face for her near the college.
Maybe your Facebook friend from high school lives near campus. Maybe your sister’s college roommate has a relative there.
Having another responsible adult as an emergency contact can be a comfort, especially if you’re hours away from campus.
Introduce your student to this person, even if it’s only over email, and make sure they have each other’s numbers – just in case.
And hey, your student may even get a few home-cooked meals out of it.
While you’re at it, make sure you have a phone number for your student’s roommate or friend – just in case you urgently need to contact your student but they’re not answering your texts.
An absentee ballot will allow your student to vote even when she’s not living at home. (pixabay.com)
10. An absentee ballot
Once your student is 18, he’s a prospective voter. Don’t let being away at college stop him from exercising this vital right.
Make sure your student applies for an absentee ballot – called “Vote By Mail” in New Jersey. You can find the applications for every New Jersey county here. When the application is complete, your student can return it to your county clerk.
One final tip? If you’re not sure where the student will be living, or if the student’s address may change over time, consider having the ballot mailed to your home address. Then you can forward it to your student.