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College Forms

Remember at the beginning of each new school year our kids would bring home forms in their backpack to be filled out and returned? New emergency cards, lunch orders, forms to purchase PE clothes?

Thought you were done with the forms? Think again. 

Starting college, like the school years before, means filling out forms.  However, these forms don’t come home in a backpack anymore. Instead, colleges tell students about these forms via Instagram, Twitter, E-mail or Facebook and it is up to the student to take action to complete and return the required forms.  Yet, the forms may still be ignored.  After all, we were the ones who always handled the forms for our kids.  Now it is their turn.

To make sure important college forms are not overlooked (and are submitted by the deadlines) take a look at the school’s website for freshmen information, discuss the required forms and due dates with your student and, if necessary, download and print them.  Some can be submitted online; others need to be printed and mailed back.

Here are some of the forms your kid may have already received:

1. College Housing:  This is probably the very first form that should be addressed. If your child is living on campus, they need to submit their dorm preferences.  There are often a variety of different types of dorms on campus to choose from, including “theme housing” (i.e., healthy living, multi-cultural, arts), same-sex dorms, or dorms based on academic interests. The school website should have a description of each dorm and where they are located.  The housing form may also ask about roommate preferences.  (See our post about Roommates, College Roommates: To Choose or Not to Choose)

2.  Meal Plan: Most schools offer a variety of meal plans with a full range of vegetarian and other diet-specific options.  Some schools require freshmen to select the full (i.e. most expensive) plan, and then allow flexibility in subsequent years.  Check the college website.

3.  Orientation:  Some schools offer orientation sessions throughout the summer and require that your student submit a form indicating which orientation they’d like to attend.  Dates may fill up on a first-come, first-serve basis, so it is important to get this form in early. Don’t worry if your school does not have summer orientation sessions, as many colleges hold orientation for all freshmen the week before classes begin. (See our post College Orientation: What’s It All About?)

4.  FERPA:  Perhaps one of the most important forms is the one giving parents authorization to access a student’s account or financial information.  Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), once a student reaches 18 or attends a postsecondary institution, all rights formerly given to parents transfer to the student. This means that a school may not generally disclose personally identifiable information from a student’s education records to a third party, including a parent, without the student’s written consent. Your student can, however, give you access to things like tuition bills and grades by signing this form.

5. Medical:  Most colleges require a variety of health forms, including a medical history, list of immunizations, physical exam, TB screening, health insurance and financial responsibility, and medical authorization and consent. Athletes may need additional forms. Since some of these forms may require a visit to the doctor before school starts, it is a good idea to identify them early.  Check the school’s website.

6. Tuition Payment Plan:  Many schools offer tuition payment plans that allow you to make 10 monthly school payments, generally beginning in June or July prior to the beginning of the academic year, to help alleviate some of the financial stress that may come from making larger tuition payments each academic semester or quarter. Some schools, such as Rutgers and Northwestern, administer their own tuition payment plan.  Others offer a plan through SallieMae.

This list is by no means exhaustive.  Each school is different and there may be forms specific to a particular school that may not be required by others.  Just be aware and be informed, so you can offer help to your college student, if needed, to get the proper college forms completed and submitted on time.

 

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