Frugal Living

Four Expenses to Prepare Your Freshman For Before College Starts

There are an awful lot of deadlines and requirements when preparing to send your child to college for the first time. Even if you’ve paid tuition and gotten a residence hall assignment, there are a few more money-related items to check off your list. There aren’t specific deadlines for these preparations, so don’t let them slip by without completing them. Prepare your child with the life skills necessary to manage a budget so that they don’t pay the price later in life.

Set up a budget so your child can manage money

Prepare your child to manage their finances, so they don’t end up spending all of their cafeteria flex dollars in the first month of school. Student loan debt statistics show that families who plan and budget for college finances borrow 30% less than those who go to school with no financial plan or preparation. Considering the average 2016 graduate had $37,000 in debt after college, it could take 20 years or more to pay off student loans that size.

Take advantage of grants, scholarships, and work-study jobs to minimize the need for student loans. You can apply through the university financial aid office, but you must fill out the FAFSA form every year to be eligible.

Prepare your child to handle their healthcare

Put together a personal health record for your child with all of the information they need when they visit the university health center. Some universities have a specific version that you must submit. Include a copy of your family insurance card, names and phone numbers of your primary care providers, current medications, and family medical history. Have your child sign a HIPAA authorization which allows healthcare providers to disclose your child’s health information and allows you to pay any campus healthcare bills. The document doesn’t require a notary or witness but allows students to stipulate what health information can be disclosed and to whom.

Set up a password-protected Amazon account

Set up an Amazon Prime account for your student to order books and school supplies. Amazon offers a dramatic discount on the annual fee to students who use a .edu email address. You can fund the account with a limited dollar amount or agree upon a budget you are willing to pay. Be sure to input the residence hall delivery address, which might be different than their regular mailing address. If your child plans to take an Alexa device with them, be sure that purchases require a PIN.

Update the car insurance

Many universities don’t allow freshmen to have a car on campus, but if your child can take a car, be sure that your insurance coverage is adequate, since laws vary from state to state. If the car will be idle at home while your child is at school, call your insurance company and see if you can get discounted service for the limited mileage expected. If your child is without a car, set up an Uber account and discuss a reasonable budget for the service.


Although there is a lot of college prep work, many of the checklist items involve budgeting for expenses, which may be new to first-time college attendees. Don’t risk ending up with 20 years of student loans by not preparing your child with the tools they need to succeed at school.

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