Wow, does time fly! Just yesterday you were changing diapers and now your child is an adult and in college. Between making sure they have all the necessary textbooks and everything to furnish their dorm room, there are some legal documents that you should consider putting in place. These documents should come in handy if there is a medical or other emergency and decisions need to be made on behalf of your college student.
Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) Waiver
Because your child is now considered a legal adult, you won’t automatically have access to information about them in regard to their education. This includes access to information with respect to their grades, academic records or disciplinary actions. It doesn’t matter that you may be paying for your child’s tuition, the FERPA Waiver is needed for you to have access to any of their school records. Ask your child’s university if they have forms on hand. If they do not, you can easily locate a copy of this waiver online.
There are some notable exceptions where a FERPA Waiver is not needed:1
- Underage drinking: If the student is under 21 years old and is in violation of any federal, state or local laws or in violation of college rules concerning the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance.
- Medical emergency: If any information needs to be communicated with respect to an emergency health or safety situation, to protect either your child or other students or individuals.
- Dependents: If you claim your child as a dependent student on your Federal income tax return. There are some notable circumstances, however; your child must be under 23 years old, be unmarried, live in your house for more than half of the tax year, and your child must not be financially supporting their own life by more than half.
Regardless of these exemptions, you may want to consider getting a FERPA Waiver signed just to make sure all of your bases are covered.
Medical Documents and Authorizations
Medical documents and authorizations tend to be easily overlooked when it comes to planning for your adult child. They may still feel like your baby, but once they reach the age of 18 they are considered an adult. If your child has a medical emergency, having the necessary documents in place will make sure you can put your focus on the most important thing, their care and recovery.
HIPAA Authorization Form
This is one of the most important medical forms to have on hand for your college student. A HIPAA authorization gives doctors and medical facilities the green light to keep you updated with details of your child’s health and medical condition in the unfortunate event of an emergency.
Medical Power of Attorney
A Medical Power of Attorney allows your child to designate a trusted party (typically a parent or legal guardian) to make medical decisions for them in the event that they become incapacitated. It is recommended that your child choose both a primary and secondary agent, just in case one of them isn’t available when needed.
Durable Power of Attorney
A Durable Power of Attorney allows your child to designate someone (typically their parents or legal guardians) to be in charge of their financial affairs if they become unable to do so. College students can also put this document in place to designate someone to handle their tax returns and other financial matters while they are away at school.
A living will allows your child to designate end-of-life care if they wind up in a persistent, vegetative state, rendering them unable to make their own medical decisions. It is also vital for them to communicate these wishes to their family members and loved ones so that everyone is on the same page.
Most college students remain on their parents’ health insurance, but it is important to confirm before they leave for college, especially if they are attending school out-of-state or in a different country.
Medical and Dental Appointments
It is a good idea to help your child take care of any medical and dental appointments before they head off to college. Have them get copies of their prescriptions so they can be filled while they are away, and make sure they have a copy of (or access to) their medical records. This is especially important if they have any chronic medical conditions.
Coverage For Your Child’s Belongings
No one wants to think about it, but dorm vandalization and property theft does happen. You’ll want to check your homeowners insurance policy to see if your child’s belongings are covered while they’re away at school. It is especially important to make sure that their laptop or tablet is covered by the policy so that they are still able to complete their schoolwork. If your child is planning to live off-campus, they may need to obtain their own renter’s insurance policy.
It’s a strange adjustment to look at your college student as a legal adult, but they are. As your student begins college, having these important legal and medical documents in place and on hand gives you and your child peace of mind and allows them to focus on the school year ahead.