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Back to School

It’s that time of year. My oldest son is starting his junior year in college and my youngest, now a senior in high school, is busy evaluating where he wants to go next fall. While my, and likely your, chief concern is the cost of higher learning, here are some other tips you may want to consider.

1. Call Your Auto Insurance Agent.

If your student is taking a vehicle to college, you should see if your coverage needs to change when the car and your student is away from home. On the other hand, you may also save on premiums if your student is not home and will not be driving a covered vehicle. It’s also a good time to ask if your student’s latest grades qualify for a “good-student discount” on premiums.

2. Check Your Health Insurance.

I learned the hard way but finally realized I was paying for extra health insurance for my son. Most colleges tack on a healthcare expense to the tuition and fees. If you otherwise have health insurance which covers your student, you are unnecessarily overpaying. Contact your college and have this expense refunded. On the other hand, depending on your coverage, it may only cover treatment for some or none of the area providers at your student’s location.

3. Update Your Healthcare Power of Attorney.

In the event of a medical emergency suffered by your student, depending on the relevant state law, you may not be able to find out how your student is doing, much less make decisions about his/her treatment without proper documentation. Long story short, you should establish in advance HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) authorization, along with medical and durable powers of attorney regarding your student, once he/she reaches age 18.

4. Use a Credit Monitoring Service.

Students are victims of identity theft too. There are services such as Credit Karma or Lifelock that can help protect the student from identify theft. What’s more, this can also alert you if your student has opened a credit card, possibly without your permission.

5. Let Your Student Have a Credit Card.

You may want your student to have a credit card to use in an emergency. Personally, I think it’s a good idea so the student can build up a credit history, or to develop a habit of making purchases while paying the balance off quickly, though keeping the maximum spending limit at a low balance, $500 for example, is a good idea.

6. Open a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC).

Ordinarily, I don’t advise my clients to take on more debt. But if you have some equity in your home, you may want to consider a HELOC. Depending on the timing that other resources may come available, a HELOC can help cover gaps in cash flow.

Best wishes to you and your students as they head back to school. Let me know if you have any questions.

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