Your young adult is college-bound. If you haven’t gotten the notification and official date for move-in day, you will soon. You know that the change will be a huge shift for you as a parent, but it will be an even greater adjustment for your recent high school graduate. Unless you live close to campus, a mandatory dorm room is in their future—and probably a roommate or three as well.
If this is your first experience sending a child to higher education, it probably looks little like it did in your day. Many dorms are actually apartments, large universities often feel like small nation states, and there’s a lot to get done between now and then. To help, we’re offering some topic-based tips for college move-in day.
By now, your son or daughter has hopefully memorized their Social Security number—their SSN. Their college or university also will probably assign them an ID number. They’ll need that ID number for everything they ever want to do in their college career wherever they are. You’ll want to be sure that you also know what it is just in case.
If your student is allowed a vehicle on campus their freshman year and intends on taking one, you’ll probably have to purchase a parking pass. Even if they aren’t living on campus, they’ll probably need one to park in any of the student lots. These can be pricey, and application due dates are often quite early—as early as the end of the prior spring semester. Freshmen often get last pick of whatever is left, so apply as soon as you know they’ll be taking a vehicle.
Despite all the bills for tuition, room and board, your student will still need access to funds to cover the necessities of everyday living and discretionary spending for activities and incidentals. If you haven’t already, it’s time to help them set up their finances:
Be sure that your student understands how they are to handle financial choices and spending. They’re going to need concrete budgets and spending limits to help. According to statistics from College Finance: a. About 65 percent of college students have a credit card. Some just wanted one, but many purposefully applied for one to start building credit. b. On average, college students carry about $3,280 in debt. This is where it pays to have a serious discussion. The top three sources of spending were online shopping, dining and gas. c. The most common mistakes students made were making only minimum payments and missing payments. Some of the most interesting statistics were that 87 percent of parents monitored their student’s credit card use, and about 70 percent of the students agreed that parents should—even though about 55 percent of college students with cards “had gotten in trouble with their parents for a purchase they made with their credit card.” The takeaway is that although students need to develop some financial independence and gain some financial experience, they need guidance too.
Many freshmen head off to school with a brand-new computer and phone. Your student will need a reliable computer to be able to complete and turn in online assignments and take tests online. Laptops can take a lot of abuse going in and out of backpacks, so be sure to have coverage—warranty, renter's insurance or both—on any expensive equipment. Your student may need their own printer as well as refills and paper. The university may allot students a certain number of sheets they can print for classes or have computer labs and tech support. Your student will also probably need a clicker for class participation points and quizzes as well as blank scannable test forms. As always, professors will require assorted textbooks and packets for their classes.
Even the most careful, frugal college students will accrue expenses they hadn’t anticipated. Professional societies associated with their major, honor societies and even public service clubs not only have dues but also fees for conferences, trips and other extracurricular activities. Recreational or intramural sports may have fees, or your student may need proper casual or professional attire for activities. Your student may find that they need a bicycle, scooter, long board or bus pass to better get to and around campus.
Most dorms provide at least a bed, desk and chair. Your student will need to bring bedding and linens to fit, and if you need a twin XL, that can be hard to find. Other standard needs are bath linens, curtains, a shower curtain, area rugs, lighting, shoe or wardrobe organizers, and Command-type hangers and hooks. If your student’s dorm has a kitchenette, they may need a few basics like a toaster or microwave. Depending on the room and conveniences, your student may need everything from paper towels, toilet paper and hand soap to dishes, dish detergent and a vacuum. They might also ask for a nice Bluetooth stereo speaker, a few wall tapestries and a television so that they can decompress with their favorite streaming shows.
If your student chooses to rush a Greek social fraternity or sorority, that can involve a significant investment in clothing, activities and fees just to rush. Dress for occasions is often dictated by the organization, and events often involve travel to other locations. If your student receives a bid and accepts, pledging, initiation and full membership will represent ongoing expenses and fees.
As you can see, preparing for move-in day is about a lot more than lining up a U-Haul at peak season and packing up boxes. These tips for college move-in day highlight the financial commitment needed to get a grown child ready for a college career. If you find yourself stressing about the finances of it all, you might want to consider a personal loan. It will let you give your child the best start possible and allow you the time you need to smooth and even out the impact on your regular financial responsibilities.
Before you send your student to college, take a look at all the advantages La Capitol Federal Credit Union can offer. We can set your student up with accounts that will reward smart spending and saving and give you the financial buffer and time you need to absorb one of life’s most amazing and memorable events.