A Quick Guide for Parents of College Children
Many parents have now said “goodbye” to their young adult children heading off to college this fall. They’re likely feeling a mix of emotions, including just plain exhaustion from the process and continued worries about COVID-19 derailing your child’s college experience. However, there are a few more to-dos we would suggest you tackle below, if you haven’t done so already. Rest assured if you didn’t get to the below items, many of these tasks can be executed online, and using eSignatures.
Most colleges and universities have developed a COVID-19 dashboard to keep families informed. We suggest visiting these sights to stay up to date on protocols, testing and infection rates. It may give you some peace of mind to have insight into the situation at your child’s school.
- 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 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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. 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.
- 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.
We wish all the new empty nesters the best of luck, and hope all children off at college have a safe, educational and fun experience.
As always, please feel welcome to contact us with other questions, concerns or thoughts.