The time when your child heads off to college is a big turning point in life. It seems like the years from birth to first grade and through middle school went on forever. Then, suddenly, you noticed that the high school years seemed to be flying by. You’ve spent 18 years caring for and raising your child and now they are leaving the nest and heading off to the beginning of their adult life. Even after the admissions forms have long been submitted and your son or daughter has been accepted and agree to attend their chosen school, there are lots of important things still to be done. Most parents find that the summer months between high school graduation and the start of the college semester go quickly, so it’s critical to tackle all the checklist tasks soon.
Arrange Financial Aid and Student Loans
With education costs increasing each year, arranging for creative ways to pay for your four-year program can be a challenge. As a first step, it’s really great if you can meet with your financial aid officer and establish a personal connection. They will be able to tell you exactly what funding you can expect in the way of grants, scholarships and loans. To maximize the amount you can borrow so you can pay for tuition, room and board, fees and books, it may be necessary to for parents to co-sign on the loans. Co-signing gives the financial institution the reassurance that the parents will honor the obligation in case the student cannot pay. When parents co-sign the note, it allows for greater borrowing power and lets you, as parents, help give your student the education they deserve.
Visit the College Your Kid Will Be Attending
Students and parents often go on a college tour to help decide which schools they would like to attend. That’s more about the admission process and narrowing your choices down. Once you’ve been accepted and agreed to attend your university, it’s really great if you can visit your chosen university’s campus again. During the quieter summer months, you can spend a few days really familiarizing yourself with your college and your new town. You can get to know the campus, meet with the financial aid officer in person and get a leg up on potential part-time jobs in the community. This makes the transition much easier, because when you arrive at school everything will be so much more comfortable for you.
Set Up Necessary Banking and Financial Arrangements
When your teen heads off to study in the fall, they will likely be on their own for the first time. To take care of all the financial things, you should set up some new accounts. First, you should contact the college and open a parent account so that you can help pay for university expenses such as tuition and fees. You should also choose a local bank and set up a joint checking account that both you and your child have access to online. For everyday use get your son or daughter a debit card on the account. It’s also helpful to have the bank issue a credit card with a reasonable credit limit for bigger purchases such as travel home or for emergency expenditures.