First and foremost, congratulations!
The summer before your new graduate’s first year enrolling in college is a busy one. Now that the college choice has been officially made, the college will ramp up communications throughout the summer with various “to-dos.” We’ve outlined a few of the important items you should be on the lookout for and, depending on your situation, may require action on your part.
Register for orientation
Orientation is a time for students to meet their classmates, families to learn more about the campus and the campus community to welcome in their newest class. Many colleges will hold orientation sessions over the summer. Others will have first-year students come to campus a few days before starting the fall semester. Depending on the campus, you may need to register for a particular orientation session (and space may be limited), so check often to reserve your preferred spot!
Fill out residence life forms
If your son or daughter is living on campus, you will need to complete several forms for residence life. As the name implies, this is the department on campus that oversees all housing matters and will communicate with you throughout the summer. The most common form is a housing agreement, like this one at Emory University, which outlines general policies and student expectations for living on campus. Keep an eye out for this and other forms and do your best to complete them quickly.
Complete entrance counseling (if borrowing loans)
If your student plans to borrow federal direct loans, they will need to complete entrance counseling. Entrance counseling is completed online and reviews the terms of the loan, borrowers’ rights and responsibilities, and repayment options, among other things. Students must complete entrance counseling to receive federal loan funds. It takes about 30 minutes to complete and it only needs to be done once, before the student borrows for the first time.
Complete health insurance waiver
Many colleges and universities include health insurance on the student bill and require students to opt-out if they are already covered under a comparable plan. Depending on state regulations, students may need health insurance to attend college within that state. In many cases, you’ll need to complete a health insurance waiver (most processes are online, like this one outlined at Boston University) and doing so sooner rather than later will ensure no delays and unwanted expenses.
Determine how to pay the bill
For most families, college savings and financial aid do not cover all expenses. The good news is many colleges and universities offer payment plans to help streamline any remaining costs. These plans are typically offered in 6-, 9- or 12-month options and split the balance due across multiple months. For example, if you owe $7,500 for the fall and spring semesters and choose the 9-month payment plan, your monthly payment would be roughly $833 for nine months vs. cutting a check for $3,750 each semester. Make sure to contact the school or visit their website for enrollment information.
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