College checklist: Five tips for parents

Share this article

Sending your young adult off to college or university can be both scary and exciting, even in the best of times. Today’s complexities might mean that your young adult starts classes online in the fall, moves to an apartment near campus studying online, or has the opportunity to experience campus life while practicing social distancing.  

Whatever the experience will be this year, the tips below may help you help your child navigate some important financial planning and life issues.

Establish a Health Care Power of Attorney (“POA”)

When your child legally becomes an adult at 18, you could be effectively estranged from important decisions regarding their health care. According to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”), a medical provider can choose not to disclose protected health information to anyone if they determine it is not in the best interests of the patient, even if the “patient” is your child.

One of the ways you can avoid this potential headache is to have your child sign a durable health care Power of Attorney (“POA”). This is a type of advanced directive that allows the child to designate a person (usually the parent) to make medical decisions on their behalf, and discuss condition/review medical records with doctors.

It is important that the health care POA is “durable,” which allows the agent (parent) the right to act on behalf of the principal (child) even if the child becomes incapacitated. A “non-durable” health care POA is legally revoked upon incapacitation.

As with any type of insurance, the hope is that you never have to use it. But accidents happen, and no matter how big or how small the incident is, the last thing a parent wants to feel is helpless when it comes to the health of their child.

Evaluate college health insurance

Most colleges and universities offer a student health plan. In many instances, parents don’t realize they are paying for this coverage and/or that it is available. However, before you opt out of the school’s health plan, consider the following:

  • If your child is attending a college in a state outside of your residence, ensure that you are aware of how your current coverage may apply in the respective state the child is attending school. How will emergency care services be covered, if needed? Another alternative aside from coverage through the college is separate coverage in the state the student attends school.

  • Before making an election, understand your options and how this will affect any needed health care while away. Keep in mind that most students under the age of 26 can remain covered on your existing health care plan.

Gain access to your child’s student portal

Gaining access to your child’s student portal allows you to keep an eye on the status of tuition payments, financial aid grants, available credits for meals, and much more. A second set of eyes never hurts to make sure that all is as it should be, especially with freshman who are often challenged with meeting these types of financial obligations for the first time.

Set up bank accounts and establish credit

Before your child goes away to school, we often recommend that your child establish their own bank account and credit card. They may have already done this when they worked during high school, but once they get to college, they will most likely be bombarded with offers to sign up for credit cards; better to nip that temptation in the bud before it happens. If you can link your child’s accounts to your accounts, you will be able to view activity, and in an emergency, deposit cash via the bank or other online payment systems. You will also be able to help guide your child towards establishing good credit.

Think before you sign that lease

By junior or senior year, many students decide to partner with friends and rent an apartment either on campus or off. They will sign a lease that obligates them to its terms. But, as we all know, life happens, and often the four best friends and roommates who start out the year don’t always finish the year together. Then what?

Consider a twofold approach:

  • Make sure your child reads and understands the terms of the lease

  • Create an agreement/contract — signed by all parties to the lease — that clearly defines each person’s obligation to fulfilling their financial obligations to the lease

Going away to college is a spectacular opportunity for young adults to blossom. Many, if not most, students learn valuable lessons about living independently, becoming financially responsible, and making the critical life decisions that will serve them well after school. By helping to get out in front of some of these traps, you can help ease the way by helping them to avoid some common pitfalls. 

 

Past performance is not indicative of future results. The views expressed above are as of the date given, may change as market or other conditions change, and may differ from views express by other Mesirow associates. This is not a solicitation to buy or sell the securities mentioned. Do not use this information as the sole basis for investment decisions, it is not intended as advice designed to meet the particular needs of an individual investor. Information herein has been obtained from sources which Mesirow believes to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy and such information may be incomplete and/or condensed. All opinions and estimates included herein are subject to change without notice. This communication may contain privileged and/or confidential information. It is intended solely for the use of the addressee. If you are not the intended recipient, you are strictly prohibited from disclosing, copying, distributing or using any of the information. If you receive this communication in error, please contact the sender immediately and destroy the material in its entirety, whether electronic or hard copy. This material is for informational purposes only and is not intended as an offer or solicitation with respect to the purchase or sale of any security.

Mesirow refers to Mesirow Financial Holdings, Inc. and its divisions, subsidiaries and affiliates. The Mesirow name and logo are registered service marks of Mesirow Financial Holdings, Inc. © 2020 Mesirow Financial Holdings, Inc. All rights reserved. Any opinions expressed are subject to change without notice. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Advisory Fees are described in Mesirow Financial Investment Management, Inc.’s Form ADV Part 2A. Advisory services offered through Mesirow Financial Investment Management, Inc. an SEC registered investment advisor. Securities offered by Mesirow Financial, Inc. member FINRA and SIPC.

Connect with an advisor

Education

Mesirow does not provide legal or tax advice. Past performance is not indicative of future results. The views expressed above are as of the date given, may change as market or other conditions change, and may differ from views express by other Mesirow associates. This is not a solicitation to buy or sell the securities mentioned. Do not use this information as the sole basis for investment decisions, it is not intended as advice designed to meet the particular needs of an individual investor. Information herein has been obtained from sources which Mesirow believes to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy and such information may be incomplete and/or condensed. All opinions and estimates included herein are subject to change without notice. This communication may contain privileged and/or confidential information. It is intended solely for the use of the addressee. If you are not the intended recipient, you are strictly prohibited from disclosing, copying, distributing or using any of the information. If you receive this communication in error, please contact the sender immediately and destroy the material in its entirety, whether electronic or hard copy. This material is for informational purposes only and is not intended as an offer or solicitation with respect to the purchase or sale of any security.

Mesirow refers to Mesirow Financial Holdings, Inc. and its divisions, subsidiaries and affiliates. The Mesirow name and logo are registered service marks of Mesirow Financial Holdings, Inc. ©2021, Mesirow Financial Holdings, Inc. All rights reserved. Any opinions expressed are subject to change without notice. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Advisory Fees are described in Mesirow Financial Investment Management, Inc.’s Form ADV Part 2A. Advisory services offered through Mesirow Financial Investment Management, Inc. an SEC registered investment advisor. Securities offered by Mesirow Financial, Inc. member FINRA and SIPC.