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Getting Your Kid Through College Series: What You May Not Know

There are so many things to think about when we send our kids to college. Is their meal plan sufficient? Do they need more money for books? Will they have the right software for their laptops? Do they have everything they need? Do they know where their classes are? Are their loans in order? The list is endless and as parents we want to make sure we’ve covered all of our bases. Here are a few things you may not have thought of, that you should definitely be discussing with your student before they go to school.

Credit cards

Students need to know that credit cards are a responsibility. Credit cards should really be for people who have an income. However, it is nice for your student to have a credit card in the event of an emergency. Taking a trip to Vegas for the weekend with your friends typically doesn’t qualify as an emergency, so be clear about what constitutes a real emergency. Consider keeping the credit limit high enough to cover a flat tire, hotel visit or flight home, but not so high that it can't be paid off quickly. Credit needs to be used wisely so that you and your child’s credit score doesn’t decline. Your kids should also be educated about interest and how to pay back credit cards. The more they know and are held responsible, the better equipped they will be to manage credit cards in the future.

Identity Protection

Make sure your kids are aware of how easy it is to have their identity stolen. Students should monitor their own protected data. Consider looking into protection services that monitor your credit and identity. Once compromised, it could take quite a bit of effort to clean up. Even children under the age of 18 should be protected against identity theft. Many services will let you add your child, at a nominal cost, if you are already enrolled in their full plan.

Powers of attorney

If your kid is 18, they are now considered to be an adult. This means if there is any type of emergency, you will potentially be unable to make decisions on their behalf. Speak to an attorney about having a power of attorney so you can make any emergency decisions. This is something we often don’t think about, because we are so used to them being our child, but once they turn 18 you no longer have the same rights.


HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) is United States legislation that provides data privacy and security provisions for safeguarding medical information. If there is a medical emergency, the school may not tell you what is going on because your child is now an adult. This is similar to power of attorney. Having this form signed in advance will allow you to have access to important medical information. Talk to your child about what their wishes are and make a plan. This also includes a tough, but critical conversation about organ donation. No parent likes to consider this as a possibility, but having an open and honest conversation prevents questioning a decision after the fact.


This is the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. You may not have heard of this form so take the time to learn what is does and when it should be used. This is the document that your students must sign to allow the college to share financial information and grade information. If this is not signed, the university cannot discuss any financial information with you. So if you call the university to pay the tuition bill and this is not signed, the information cannot be given to you.

College passwords

Get college sign in passwords so you can see all of the financial information related to your child. This is where you can see the bills, see what’s paid, see what’s coming, see your balance and any alerts. This is also a good opportunity to check in to make sure everyone is being transparent with regards to money and grades.

Life Insurance

This is something no parent wants to think about, but if you have taken out loans on your student and the worst happens, private loans will still need to be paid. Having your child insured also preserves their insurability, and once they are out and working, they can easily convert it to a more permanent product. There are a variety of benefits to owning life insurance. If you are not aware of all the benefits, ask an adviser to discuss product options so you can be educated about how to maximize this essential coverage.

There are so many things to consider when your child goes to college. The more you learn, the better you will be able to respond favorably to any situation. Knowledge is power.

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