The end of summer brings saying “goodbye” to your young adult child heading off to college. You’re likely feeling a mix of emotions: exhaustion from the process, worrying about how your child will adjust and for some, uncertainty about the change in family dynamics. There are several recommendations we would suggest to make this transition as successful as possible for all involved. Rest assured if you don’t get to the below suggestions before they leave, many of these tasks can be executed online using eSignatures.
1. HIPAA Privacy Authorization Form
HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) requires health care providers and insurance companies to protect the privacy of patient’s health care information once they reach the age of 18. This means that parents will be prevented from accessing their children’s medical information without authorization from your adult child. By signing a HIPAA Privacy Authorization Form, your child can authorize doctors to share diagnoses and treatment options with you. The form needs to be signed by the patient, and the patient must complete a separate form for each health care provider you want to authorize to release information. If they go to school out of state, they will need a separate form signed for the providers they see in that state. All of these forms should be backed up with photocopies on your smart phone and theirs so they can be accessed quickly in the event of emergency. https://eforms.com/release/medical-hipaa/
2. FERPA Consent to Release Student Information Form
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) is a United States federal law that governs the access of educational information and records. FERPA gives college aged students the right of privacy regarding grades, enrollment, academic warnings and even billing information unless the school has specific permission from the student to share this information with their parents. While you may be paying your child’s college tuition and expenses, in the eyes of the law, your 18-year-old is an adult and entitled to the same privacy protections that you are.
You and your child will likely receive an email from your child’s school that will instruct your child how to provide you with access to their records. You should both be on the lookout for this email. If you do not hear from your child’s school, we suggest you contact them directly and request a FERPA Consent to Release Student Information to allow access to pertinent records and information. Students are not required to give you access so this is a discussion you should have with your child before they head off to school.
3. Set up a Local Bank Account
While most 18-year-olds may already have a savings account in place, most will have to set up new accounts as they leave home and manage day‐to‐day cash flow for the first time. We recommend students set up a checking account on or close to campus to have local access to cash to avoid transaction fees. We also highly recommend you do your research and check the fee structure of these accounts. Many institutions will offer accounts designed for students. Look for one with features such as: no monthly maintenance fee, negligible or no minimum balance requirement, free debit card, free ATM usage at your bank, free online banking, free check writing, and no money transfer fees.
4. Use of Credit Card
College students vary widely in their levels of responsibility and we know our children best. Some are ready for their own credit cards with limits to establish credit, some can be put on our own cards as authorized users with a set limit and others should not have credit cards just yet. If you choose to designate your child as an authorized user on your credit card, one way to reduce the risk associated with overspending is to set a spending limit on that card. It’s worth contacting your credit card company to set customized limits for authorized users and prevent them from accessing your entire credit line. You may also want to set alerts to receive notification of when the card is used or if spending is close to the limit.
5. Start Building Good Financial Habits
For many young adults, college is the first time they have been responsible for managing money on their own. While we all have different philosophies around educating our children about this, one thing we suggest is to set up a mechanism for them to start tracking money on a monthly basis. If a child has savings from a summer job that they plan to use during the school year, consider setting up a Venmo or automatic transfer to them at the beginning of each month and having them manage this transfer as a “salary.” It’s a great exercise for them to take ownership over their choices and spending. This is an essential lifetime skill and starting in college when the stakes are low can be advantageous.
College is a time for self-exploration, individuation and personal development. Although we all experience that ache that comes with seeing a child off to college, it is possible to alleviate some of that stress by taking action to prepare before the day of departure. As tough as this can be, try hard to provide your child the wings they need to develop, trusting you have given them the strong roots they need to thrive
As always, please feel welcome to contact us with other questions, concerns or thoughts.