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5 Tips for New College Students & Parents

By Portage County Business Council

By LouAnn Schulfer,  AWMA®, AIF®
Accredited Wealth Management Advisor®
Accredited Investment Fiduciary

There are all sorts of well known planning strategies for how to save for and pay for college.  With the experience of two sons going away to universities, I’d like to share five tips that are not often thought of.

  • Save on car insurance. If your son or daughter is not taking a car to college, call your insurance agent.  They may offer a discount since your son or daughter will not be a regular driver while they are away at school.  Since young drivers are expensive to insure, this could be hundreds of dollars of savings to you.
  • Healthcare forms. When your child turns 18, they become a legal adult.  While they may remain on your health insurance plan, their information and decision making becomes their own.  A HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) form permits healthcare providers to share health information with anyone specifically designated on the form.  Without this document, if your child were admitted to a hospital for example, the staff may not even be able to disclose whether or not your child was checked in or is present at the facility.  A Healthcare Power of Attorney form is a separate legal record which allows another person to make healthcare related decisions if the patient is not able to themselves.
  • Joint checking. When your son or daughter opens a checking account, consider having a parent’s name on the account as well.  The checks may be printed with only the student’s name, but having a joint owner can allow the parent (or whomever the joint owner is) to have online access to the account, as well as conduct transactions.  This can be handy if your student travels abroad, becomes sick or is injured and needs help, or even just to oversee the account until the student has the experience to confidently handle the account on their own.  If the unthinkable happens and death occurs, the joint owner has full and immediate access to the money in the account without having to go through probate or other legal action.
  • Apply for a joint credit card. A young person with little or no financial experience opening their own credit card account could be a dangerous situation.  Apply jointly with a parent.  This will not only allow the parent to coach the new credit account holder along the way on wise ways to use the credit card, such as only charging what you can pay in full each month, but it will also help the new young adult build credit.  A word of caution:  if you are a joint owner of a credit card account, you are responsible for the account in its entirety.  Therefore, if your son or daughter makes purchases that they can not or do not pay off on the credit card, that account becomes your responsibility and in turn, affects your credit score.  Therefore, approach this step only when you feel confident that you are both ready.
  • Meal plan options. Many campuses require meal plans.  I’ve heard several parents say that they don’t want their kids to go hungry, so they elect the deluxe plans without having planned at all!  You may find that opting for a lower priced meal plan and occasionally making “a La Carte” purchases can be easier on your pocketbook.  This is especially true for meal plans that do not “carry over”, meaning that if you do not use the meals within a certain time period (weekly, or per semester), you lose them, even though you’d paid in full, in advance.

Graduating high school, turning 18 and going off to college are all huge transitional points that occur within a short time.  If this applies to your family now or in the future, my best advice is to think through the many facets of how life is changing, cover your bases and continue to provide your wisdom to your children.

LouAnn Schulfer is co-owner of Schulfer & Associates, LLC Financial Professionals and can be reached at (715) 343-9600 or
Securities and advisory services offered through LPL Financial, a Registered Investment Advisor.  Member FINRA/SIPC.
Content in this material is for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.