Sending your kid off to college has many a parent on edge. Will they eat nutritious meals? Will they remember how to do their laundry? But when your soon-to-be college freshman is under the age of 17, parents face an entirely extra set of concerns.

Here’s a checklist to help you consider a variety of issues you and your early college kid may face as a non-traditional age student living on campus.

college campus

Your child’s college ID card will be his best friend while living on campus. That all-in-one card will gain him access to his dorm building, meal plan, and library lending privileges. However, it’s important to make sure your early college kid also has a state issued ID that lists his permanent address. In some cases he’ll need the second picture ID for banking purposes or financial transactions. If your youngster isn’t driving, yet, he can get a state issued ID from the Department of Motor Vehicles for less than $20.

Cell phones (with an insurance plan for lost, stolen, or broken phones) will be your lifeline to your early college kid. More importantly, though, that phone may be your child’s lifeline in a time of need. Programming an In Case of Emergency (ICE) number into the phone’s contact will provide first responders with a way of reaching you, should something bad ever happen. Check with your phone’s manufacturer how to make sure ICE contact information is available when the phone is locked.

Also, consider adding on a texting plan. It usually only costs $5 per month for unlimited texting. You’ll be surprised by how you’ll grow to like the instant contact you can have with your kid. And, your kid will appreciate the random messages from home asking about how they did on a test but not having to take the call in front of friends.

Contact the college’s Residence Life department to make them aware of your child’s age. Just because Admissions knows there’s an early college kid coming to campus doesn’t mean they’ve communicated that to other departments. Part of your ResLife discussion may include how your child’s age should be a need-to-know piece of information. Beyond essential staff, your child should have the right to decide who knows about her age and who doesn’t. Remind the ResLife administrator that they are responsible for educating their staff that they are not entitled to discuss your child’s age with other students.

Contact the school’s Heath Services and confirm what type of waiver you will need to sign so your child can obtain general medical care while living on campus. While you’re at it, have your insurance company issue an additional subscriber card so your early college kid can keep it in their wallet for those late night sick visits.

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act provides college students – even underage ones – with certain rights to privacy. Even though you’re paying the tuition bill, colleges cannot disclose information to you, the parent, unless your child gives the school permission. Contact the Dean of Students ahead of time and find out the procedures for having your early college kid designate you on her FERPA waiver. Once you are in the system, you’ll be able to talk to financial aid, bursar (billing), and registrar office staff about issues you may need to help your young one resolve.

Yes, even college kids go on field trips – especially during freshmen orientation when they pack the kids on a bus and take them to an amusement park for some community building fun. Off-campus trips are more common for selective Living Learning Communities and Honors College students. Regardless of the sponsor, your early college kid might not be able to go unless you sign and deliver a liability waiver form. Find out ahead of time about travel waivers and see if you can leave a blanket waiver on file for your child.

In this day and age of online banking, you may not need to worry about this issue as much. Should your early college kid get a job while at school, you can set up direct deposit. The biggest concern may be accessing cash through ATMs. Unless the school has a national bank on campus, your kid may wind up paying ATM usage fees. On alternative to consider is using your child’s student ID as a debit card. Many colleges offer this option and, again, you can manage deposits and view transactions through an online system.

Establishing a temporary power of attorney for your child living on campus is a consideration some families make. This legal document essentially assigns parenting rights to another adult, who would be able to make serious decisions on the behalf of your child in your absence. One of the few times where this would be necessary is in a life or death situation. Talk to an attorney before signing such a document, in order to fully understand the implications of such a decision.

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Last modified on April 19, 2020