Managing Your Money

The College Parent's Checklist

In a few short weeks many students will be heading off to college. Whether they are headed off for the first time or cruising into senior year, here’s a list of some things to consider:

•Many schools require students to sign up for their health insurance. But if you can show that your insurance will cover the student then you can opt out. However be sure that your insurance is as convenient as the school’s – you want your child to be able to use the doctors and hospitals closest to campus.

•Have an attorney draw up health care directives (a Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care) naming one or more parents as the agent. That will enable you to speak with your child’s doctor or hospital and be involved in the care decisions. Otherwise if your child is over 18, thus considered an adult, you won’t be involved in the health care decisions or even be allowed to ask about his or her condition.

•Check with your homeowners insurer to see if your policy covers theft from a dorm room. If your student is in an apartment you’ll want to get renters insurance.

•If your child is going to school more than 100 miles away, your insurer may give you a discount on your auto policy as the student will be considered an infrequent driver.

•Book flights as far in advance as possible, and sign up with a student travel discount site such as

•Your student will be flooded with credit card offers at school. It’s a good idea to take out one credit card – and only one. Look for the lowest rate and don’t be enticed by rewards or other perks. This should be considered a card for emergencies.

•Give your student gift cards for purchasing particular items; for instance from a linens store or the campus bookstore. That way you know the card will be used for its intended purpose.

•Teach your child to guard their identity: give them a small shredder for any papers with personal information; make sure they don’t carry their Social Security card in their wallet and don’t give it out indiscriminantly, or use it as a log in ID.

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