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Things to do before sending a child to college.

It’s fall, which means anyone with a senior in high school is doing the same thing, College Applications.  But while you are choosing a college, and worrying about how to pay for it, there are a few other things you need to consider before move in day.

Are doctors and hospitals, near the school, in network for your health insurance?

The time to find out whether or not your insurance will charge you in network or out of network costs is not after your student had to visit the emergency room.  Checking your benefits now will give you a chance to either switch to insurance which will cover the area in network (if you can) or to purchase insurance through the University/College (if offered) to cover your child.  A $1500 annual health insurance policy is significantly cheaper then any ER visit.

Will your car insurance go down, if your child is away at college?

This may depend on whether your child is on your policy as a full time or part time driver and whether they are taking a car with them to school.  If they aren’t taking a car for their first year, and on your policy as a full time driver, moving them to a part time driver will save you money each month.

Will people discuss your child’s grades, health, etc with you?

The answer to this is likely no.  If your child is over 18, they are considered an adult and you will have no access to their grades, health information, and the like, without the child’s permission.  This can be done through informal signed documents though the school or the doctor’s office, or through more formal documents like a power of attorney.  But remember, the child can revoke these documents at anytime.  Deciding to use formal documents versus informal documents will depend on your relationship with your child and if you trust them to give the informal permissions.

What bank is near the school?

With today’s technology this question becomes less important as the ability to deposit checks via apps means you can literally bank anywhere.  But if your bank does not have that ability, or you want the student to have the option of having a physical location, nearby, then you need to open an account with a bank near the school.  In addition, many schools now have relationships with a major bank in which their campus ID is also a debit card for any connected bank accounts with that bank.

Does your mobile network get good coverage on campus?

Depending on your mobile provider, you may find that your child has good or poor coverage on campus.  Make plans now, in case coverage is bad and the child needs to move off a family plan to their own plan, on a different network, for better coverage.  This will help to avoid fees and penalties from having to break a contract you just signed.

Double check what you can spend money from a 529 account on.

There are rules on what are qualified expenses for your 529 funds.  Only required textbooks and supplies are qualified expenses, which means those study guides are not covered unless the professor requires them.  Even computers, may or may not be a qualified expense.  Items such as TVs, clothing, alcohol are not qualified expenses.  Off campus housing and food may or may not be a qualified expense.  Knowing beforehand what is and isn’t allowed can save you from a nasty tax bill.

Double check any legal documents for necessary changes.

Now is the time to double check legal documents for nay necessary changes.  Do you have a parenting plan?  What does it say about child support after the age of 18 or end of high school?  Does it cover college expenses?  What does your will say, do you need to adjust it now that you have an adult (or another, or all) child.  Remember, if you need to adjust child support because a child is aging out, or you need to finally address college expenses between the parents, this will likely take at least a year to change, or more.  So early planning can help to reduce the impact it has on your child starting college.

Sending a child off to college means lots of changes, don’t overlook these and end up with a big bill or headache later on.

Are there lots of changes going on in your life?  I can help.  Call me today to discuss your options Because Life Happens