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8 Legal Documents Parents and College Students Should Sign

College Planning

Your child is getting ready to head to college. Between making sure they have their textbooks, and everything needed to furnish their dorm, there are some legal documents that you should have in place. Many of these documents will be handy to have should a medical or other emergency occur requiring you to make decisions on behalf of your child.

Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) Waiver

Because your child is now a legal adult, you don’t have automatic access to information about them regarding their education. This includes access to information about their grades, academic records, and disciplinary actions. Even if you’re paying your child’s tuition, a FERPA Waiver is needed to access any of their school records. Ask your child’s college to see if they have the forms on hand. If they don’t, you can easily find a copy of this waiver online.

There are a few notable exceptions where a FERPA Waiver is not needed:1

  • Underage drinking: if the student is under 21 years of age and is in violation of any federal, state, or local laws or college rules concerning the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance
  • Medical emergency: if information needs to be communicated regarding an emergency health or safety situation to protect either your student or other individuals
  • Dependents: if you list your child as a dependent student on your federal income tax return. Some exceptions may apply.

Regardless of these exemptions, you may want to get a FERPA Waiver signed just to make sure your bases are covered.

Medical Documents and Authorizations

Medical documents and authorizations are easy to overlook when it comes to your child. They may still be your baby, but once they reach the age of 18, they’re considered an adult. Should your child have a medical emergency, having the necessary documents on hand will allow you to focus on their care and recovery.

HIPAA Authorization Form

This is one of the most important medical forms to have for your child. A HIPAA authorization allows doctors and medical facilities to keep you updated regarding your child’s medical condition and health in the event of an emergency.

Medical Power of Attorney

A Medical Power of Attorney allows your child to designate someone (typically a parent or legal guardian) to make medical decisions for them should they become incapacitated. It’s recommended that your child choose a primary and secondary agent, just in case one of them isn’t available.

Durable Power of Attorney

A Durable Power of Attorney allows your child to designate someone (typically a parent or legal guardian) to handle their financial affairs should they become unable to. College students can also use this document to designate someone to handle their tax returns and other financial matters while they’re away at school.

Living Will

A living will allows your child to designate end-of-life care should they wind up in a persistent vegetative state, unable to make their own medical decisions. It’s also vital for them to communicate these wishes to their family members so that everyone is on the same page.

Health Insurance

Most students are on their parents’ health insurance, but it’s important to confirm this before they leave for college, especially if they’re attending school out-of-state or in another country.  You will want to make sure to check whether or not there are in-network providers available in your student's college town/state.  If not, consider making changes during your open enrollment window.

Medical and Dental Appointments

It’s a good idea to make sure your child has any medical and dental appointments taken care of at least a month before they leave for college. Get copies of their prescriptions so they can fill them while they’re away, and make sure they have a copy of their medical records, especially if they have a chronic medical condition.

Coverage For Your Child’s Belongings

No one wants to think about dorms being vandalized or property being stolen, but it does happen. You’ll want to check your homeowners insurance policy to determine if your child’s belongings are covered while they are away at school. It’s especially important to make sure that their laptop or tablet is covered so they’re still able to do their schoolwork. If your child lives off campus, they may need to obtain renter’s insurance.

It’s an adjustment to think of your child as a legal adult. As your child heads off to college, having these important legal and medical documents on hand gives you peace of mind and allows you to focus on the school year ahead.

  1. https://studentprivacy.ed.gov/frequently-asked-questions

This content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information, and provided by Twenty Over Ten. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security.

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