College Preparedness Tips

Setting yourself up for college success starts by having a good foundation, and that starts by having a plan. Just showing up on move-in day and figuring things out on the fly is never a good idea. To help your family prepare for college, here are five tips to help bring together a College Preparedness Plan:

  1. Have a budget

    When thinking about costs, your mind may go immediately to tuition and textbooks. But you should build your budget to include all the additional costs of higher education, from activity fees and meal plans to health insurance plans (if not already covered under a family plan). You may need vehicle and fuel expenses or a public transit pass. And don’t forget about toiletries, towels, bedding and a laundry bag! You will also need to set aside recreational money and emergency funds for the good times and the bad. Make sure your budget covers many situations so your family doesn’t find themselves scrambling to cover costs last minute.

  2. Make a family emergency plan

    Things don’t always go according to plan. In case of emergencies, you need to have a solid plan of family contacts and contingencies. Set priorities and roles and think about who may have the most flexibility in your family to drop what they’re doing and come to your aid. If a student is too far away to make travel back home quick and easy, make sure your emergency plan covers what to do and when in case dangerous inclement weather is headed your way.

  3. Get organized

    Your college, trade school or university may request a photo ID, proof of health insurance, high school documents, proof of immunization status, or financial statements and documents. Different documents may be required at different times. You may need documents or bills indicating your address to verify proof of residence for in-state tuition. If anyone in your family needs to take a commercial flight, make sure they have an unexpired Real ID compliant state identification such as a driver’s license. (Hint: check for a yellow star in the top-right corner on state-issued IDs.) Keep all your documents organized and know where they are so you won’t find yourself in a scramble.

  4. Tune up your car

    If a student in your family is going away for a semester with a vehicle, be sure to get any tune-ups or scheduled maintenance taken care of. Check tires for wear and replace them if necessary. A well-maintained car is a safer car. Spotting any issues and having them repaired now could help save you costlier headaches later.

  5. Update your insurance

    With a student heading for school, make sure your insurance is up to date with your needs. Perhaps you’ll want to update liability auto coverage to full coverage with allowance for courtesy vehicles. Make sure all the information in your healthcare plan is up to date. If you wish to take advantage of in-network providers of healthcare, make it part of your planning to identify providers in the area the student will be. If a student requires eyewear, consider getting a backup pair of glasses in case the primary pair is damaged. And while you’re at it, make sure the prescription is up to date.

By heading into college with a plan, you can help the students in your family stay focused on their studies and ease stress and worry. And make sure you keep your plan updated each semester or school period.

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Sources: Consumer Reports, US Department of Education