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Quick Guide for Parents of College Bound Children During Covid-19

These are very unusual times for parents of college-bound young adults.  Parents and students are being faced with challenging decisions about returning to or starting college given all of the different of models to mitigate the risks of Covid-19.  As many parents get ready to send their young adult children off to college this fall, we thought it would be worthwhile to put together a quick guide on the items you won’t find in a dorm room or off-campus apartment and steps to take before they head off to school. 

  1.   Execute a Health Care Proxy or Advanced Directive

As a parent, it is not unusual to feel you are in the best position to help your child make decisions in life, especially with regard to health treatments. However, there are legal barriers you may encounter once your child becomes an adult. Once your child turns 18, the responsibility of making health care decisions for your child is taken away by the law unless you have been named as an agent by a health care proxy. Particularly, the access to medical information and records of your child becomes restricted by the provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA). Executing a health care proxy for college students is one of the simplest ways to ensure you can continue to take care of your child after they’ve left for college.

        2.  Complete a 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 even parents may be prevented from accessing their children’s medical information without an authorization. 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. Please contact Sandy Cove Advisors if you would like a copy of a HIPAA Privacy Authorization Form.

        3.  Request a 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 parents access to their under 18-year-old child's education records, an opportunity to have the records amended, and some control over the disclosure of information from the records. However, students over the age of 18 years or students of any age, if enrolled in any post-secondary educational institution, must provide consent prior to the disclosure of education records. FERPA gives college aged students the right of privacy regarding grades, enrollment, and even billing information unless the school has specific permission from the student to share that specific type of information.

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. We suggest you contact the university and request a FERPA Consent to Release Student Information prior to your child beginning school this fall to allow access to pertinent records and information.  

       4.  Set up a Local Bank Account

While most 18-year-olds may already have savings accounts 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. Look for an account that offers 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.

        5.  Consider Setting Credit Card Limits

One way to reduce the risk associated with overspending is to set a spending limit on the credit card used by your college aged child. 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.

 As always, please feel welcome to contact us with other questions, concerns or thoughts as your children leave for college.