It’s the time of year when our esteemed adolescent Americans return to their homeland: college. Some of them are going for the first time, and their parents are going absolutely insane trying to cover all the bases for the dorm room. But there are some other things that I think they should keep in mind. Things that are more important than an emergency, solar-powered espresso machine.

If a student is 18 or older, they’re legally an adult. You might not think your child is an adult, but they really are. That means they’re afforded privacy regarding their medical decisions as well as their academic record. That’s right: Even though you pay for college, you don’t have access to your child’s transcripts without their permission.

Here’s a cheat sheet for you to work on while your kid spends $1,000 on books for one class:

  • HIPAA Authorization: This is the form that appoints you as your child’s agent. Otherwise, there’s a good chance the doctors won’t talk to you if there’s a medical emergency. 
  • Advanced Directives: The most important advanced directives are the living will and the health care proxy. If there’s an accident, you want to make sure that the doctors keep you in the loop and involve you in decision making, and these documents give the medical team permission to do just that. 
  • Power of Attorney: This will enable you to take care of any financial affairs while Janey or Johnny is overseas, etc.. 
  • Will: Even though college kids don’t have a lot of assets, it’s a good idea to have a will put in place — if not for their tangible assets, then for their digital assets like social media accounts. 
  • Cash Infusions: Sometimes, the kids just need cash. I recommend testing out a method for transferring cash between you — like PayPal, Venmo, or Zelle — before you need it.

For some people, shipping the kids off to college is a sad time. I was not one of them. Kids have to leave eventually, and I was happy knowing that my daughters passed that milestone in the best way possible. Raising a child that is comfortable enough to leave means you did your job! Of course, all of your well-intentioned messaging on frugality and savings will probably go out the window on Mall Crawl night.

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