Summer Survival Tips on Preparing to Send Your Child to College

Published by Debra TaylorCPA/PFS, CDFA, JD | June 20, 2016

Last week, my daughter Caroline graduated from high school.  I can’t believe it!  What an exciting and emotional time!  As we approach the end of this school year, I am sure many of you are also celebrating graduations.  And, like me, you may be preparing to send your child off to college in a couple of months. Maybe you’ve started thinking of the list of things to do before they leave, both logistically and emotionally.  And the list can seem daunting.  But if you start with a few early planning items that will help you prepare throughout the summer, you will feel less overwhelmed and less stressed when the time arrives.  Here are a few suggestions (and, yes, I am taking my own advice).

Congratulations, Caroline and the Montclair Kimberly Class of 2016!

Medical Care.  If your college-bound child isn’t already 18 years old, he or she will likely be turning 18 during their first year at college.  For that reason, it’s important to realize that, in the event they require medical care, the doctor may not speak with you due to Health Insurance Portability and Accountability (HIPAA) privacy rules.  Don’t make it difficult to obtain necessary medical information about your child in case of an emergency.  Have them sign a HIPAA form titled “Authorization for Use and Disclosure of Protected Health Information,” which will allow you to speak with doctor’s offices, hospitals, and even colleges on behalf of your child.  (Click here to download the HIPAA form.)  Also, you should consider purchasing the health insurance available through their college, which could be less expensive and provide “local” care to them.

Back to School Shopping.  Don’t wait for the end of the summer.  Do your back to school shopping sooner than later.  It’s less stressful and less frustrating to get your shopping done before the mobs begin.  Also, if you start thinking about it sooner, you can give yourself time to take inventory of stuff you may already have, and time to look for deals on items you need.  By the time July rolls around, you will start seeing deals on Groupon and LivingSocial, and have the chance to get some online shopping done before hitting the stores.

Everyday Essentials.  Although our kids have been watching us cook, do laundry, and take care of our banking needs for all the years of their lives, that doesn’t necessarily mean they understand or are prepared to do those things for themselves.  So be sure to take some time over the summer to show them these essentials and to oversee them as they begin doing them on their own.  Ask them to cook a few basic meals for the family (buy some Pepto-Bismol in advance =0)).  Let them wash their own clothes.  And definitely make sure they know how to properly use the ATM, write a check, and make a deposit.

Family Quality Time.  For me, this is the most important item on my list (for obvious emotional reasons).  Spending time with the family together before your child goes off to college is good for everyone.  It will be an adjustment for the whole family.  So be sure to plan a family vacation or maybe some weekend getaways.  Take advantage of every day together so that you can hold on to those memories while you wait to see your college-bound child again.

Funding Their Education.  If you have invested in a Section 529 Plan to help pay for college costs, now is the time to consider if and how much you will need to withdraw to begin paying tuition.  Remember, distributions to pay for qualified college costs are Federally income tax free.  Also, if your child receives a scholarship, the Section 529 money can be transferred to another member of the family.

The fact is, saying farewell to our college-bound children will undoubtedly still be an emotionally difficult thing to do, but preparing for it will help ease the blow.  If you have questions about your Section 529 Plan or would like us to assist you in any of your college planning needs, please call our office.  We are always available to assist you.

Content in this material is for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.  Prior to investing in a 529 Plan investors should consider whether the investor’s or designated beneficiary’s home state offers any state tax or other benefits that are only available for investments in such state’s qualified tuition program. Withdrawals used for qualified expenses are federally tax free. Tax treatment at the state level may vary. Please consult with your tax advisor before investing. Investing involves risk including loss of principal. No strategy assures success or protects against loss.

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