My middle son is headed off to college next week for his second year and things are a little bit less chaotic this year than last. Trying to remember everything to bring is a very daunting challenge. Last year I made endless lists to remember all his toiletries, blankets, towels, toilet paper, financial aid paperwork filled out, rented a loft and anything and everything in between. Of course, as much as we thought we remembered everything there were certain resources that I didn’t consider until the middle of the year or even later. These five important resources will help your college-bound student have a stress-free and you a worry-free academic year.
Resource Number #1 Renter’s Insurance/Liability Insurance
At the start of the year, I didn’t have any insurance on my son’s belongings while he was living on campus. I hadn’t thought about it until a friend of mine told me how her daughter’s off-campus apartment had been broken into several times. They had not bought renters insurance for her belongings. This made me realize I needed to cover his personal items especially the electronics. I also began to think of liability insurance because if he accidentally ruined anything in his dorm room or on campus we would be held liable.
I called our insurance agent and had our renter’s insurance coverage cover both his property on school grounds and liability in case he left the ramen noodles cooking in the pot one hour too long! We have a land contract so we have renters insurance for our belongings. If you own a home you can call your homeowner’s insurance provider and have your son or daughter covered. Check the policy carefully because the homeowners may only cover if they live on campus and if they go full-time. Most students who live off campus will need their own renter’s insurance policy because their actual address will change and can no longer be covered under their parents. Next year my son does plan on moving into an apartment on his own and will have to obtain renters insurance on his own.
Resource Number #2 Mental Health Services
Another helpful resource you may not think about but is extremely important to your son or daughter’s well-being is access to any type of mental health services. College can be a wonderful, exciting, fulfilling time for students. It can also be a scary, stressed, lonely time for students. Students have a lot of stressors going on while attending college: academics, making friends, living with strangers at first, being away from home and juggling all of it at the tender ages of 17 and 18 years old. Many if not all colleges and universities offer some type of mental health or counseling services to help guide students who are feeling anxious or scared. If our children aren’t comfortable talking with us then it’s good to know that they have someone and someplace to go where they can feel safe and secure. Check with your child’s university where these services are offered.
- It may be a building that houses several counselors
- A 24-hour hotline service and the college may have pamphlets in the dorms and academic buildings offering these services.
- They may also offer referrals for students to community programs and other hotlines.
- The university my son attends sends out a detailed letter with a pamphlet outlining all their services and where to find them. They also send out magnets which have all the important numbers to call in case of emergencies. I keep one of the magnets on my fridge at home and gave one to my son for school.
Resource #3 Quality Medical Insurance
Your son/daughter may think they are invincible but it’s inevitable that sickness or injury can and will occur sometime during their years at college. If they go to a school far away from their hometown or out of state, as a parent, it’s good to know you have resources for you son or daughter to obtain quality health insurance. From pink eye to a broken leg having health insurance alleviates some of the stress for both parents and students. Since the Affordable Care Act was enacted college students have more health insurance options to keep themselves covered.
- Students can stay on their parents’ plan till they are 26 years old.
- Many colleges offer their own health insurance plan for students.
- Students can buy subsidized health plans but make sure you have quality coverage.
- Students who come from low-income families may qualify for Medicaid if the state they live in has expanded Medicaid
You and your son/daughter should sit down and think about what coverage plan would best fit their needs. Don’t forget to make copies of their or your insurance card and prescription card for the school to have on file and for your college student to keep close by.
Resource #4 Having a Vehicle on Campus
Having a car on campus can be a beneficial resource for any student. Each college and university have their own rules about students being allowed to keep vehicles on campus. If you and your student decide to let them have a vehicle on campus make sure your son/daughter are following the regulations. You don’t want to come out of the library or a friends dorm one night and find your car with a giant ticket or towed away. Make sure their driver’s license and registration is up to date and doesn’t expire while at school. Car Insurance should also be current and paid up. The more you(parent) have completed and prepared the better you and your student will feel during the school year.
A few other things to remember when having a vehicle on campus:
1. Check oil level and other fluid levels, tire pressure ( my son has to do this often) and have jumper cables if possible before doing a long drive.
2 Don’t keep valuables in the car and keep the car locked up.
3 Don’t let them lend out their car. The insurance is most likely in your name as well as the registration. Either way, it’s better to have the responsibility of who is driving the car on your son or daughter’s shoulders, not someone else. This maybe your students only means of transportation and both of you don’t want to risk something happening to the vehicle.
Resource #5 Opening Up a Checking/Savings Account
Lastly, another great resource is finding a bank that your son/daughter can utilize for their financial needs.
- Find a bank where you can open up a checking account and/or savings account so pay checks can be directly deposited.
- Have access to an ATM/debit card to help have extra money for everyday items or for an emergency.
- If you can’t find your bank locally in the town where they are going to school then make sure your institution has online and mobile capabilities. Your son/daughter can pay their bills for school online from their dorm or pay for incidentals with their mobile phone. This is a nice convenience for them while being away from home.
- Watch for hidden fees if you choose a bank that you don’t normally use.
- Link your account to your son or daughter’s account. That way if an emergency comes up and they don’t have money you transfer money right into their account. This is something my son and I are currently looking into. There were times when he needed money for something and it is much easier to transfer from one account to the other with a push of a few buttons than sending a money wire to a store like Walmart especially since he did not have a vehicle as well.
As my son’s second year progresses it’s been nice having less worry and stress on both of us since using some of these key resources. I hope these resources are beneficial for you and your student for their upcoming year attending College. As a reader do you have anymore tips or resources for a college bound student? Let me know in the comments below..
Chillin With Carrie