Guide to the College Send-off: 9 Tips for Parents

We’ve spoken to parents about how they dealt with sending their kids off for their first year of college. Here are their top tips.

1. Don’t pack all your kid’s stuff to take to college.

Most dorm rooms are small and your child will probably have to share the room with another person. Bring only the essentials (computer, music, clothes, toiletries) and leave everything else behind. Your child can take more items back after a visit home, or you can bring more items when you come for parents’ weekend.

WHN TIP – Avoid clothing overload! Pack only 2-3 weeks worth of clothing. Why? Closets are small and if they have more clothing than necessary, they might not do laundry very often.

2. Before packing, create an inventory list of electronics and other valuables.

List serial numbers, make, model and other details in case items are stolen, damaged or lost and you need to file a homeowner’s insurance claim. Our Home Inventory article has helpful tips and forms.

3. Check for insurance on your child’s belongings. 

Find out if your homeowner’s insurance will cover your kid’s belongings while away from home or if renter’s insurance would be a better choice.

4. Consider booking visits home well in advance.

Holiday travel is usually more expensive than usual so book ahead to get the best deals. Most schools post their academic calendar online and this usually lists the dates of fall, winter and spring breaks.

5. Keep your kid’s cell phone on your family plan.

This way you can go online to see the account usage and know when your kid’s phone is active (kind of like a monitoring tool).

6. Understand that your child is officially and legally an adult when he or she turns 18.

In many cases, your child will have to grant you permission (usually by signing a form) in order to allow you access to his/her financial, personal and academic information.

7. Have a talk about finances well before your child heads off to school.

Your child might not know about overdraft charges, credit card debt, budgeting, online banking, applying for loans and financial aid and other money matters.

8. Not using the college’s meal plan?

Consider signing up for a grocery delivery service and have the company drop off the groceries every two weeks or so. That way your child can devote more time to studies and work.

9. Remember what goes there must come back too!

When it’s time to move your child (and all that stuff!) back home, come prepared. Bring plenty of cleaning supplies, an extra vacuum and maybe a dolly to help with the cleaning and moving.


For More Information

MyMoney.gov — A list of links to government resources on financial aid, loans, scholarships and grants, and budgeting. To reach the widest number of people possible, the U.S. Financial Literacy and Education Commission established a Web site and a toll-free telephone number to coordinate the presentation of educational materials from across the spectrum of federal agencies that deal with financial issues and markets.

SavingforCollege.com — Savingforcollege.com LLC offers independent and objective information about 529 plans and other ways to save and pay for college. The company does not sell investments or offer individual investment advice. Instead, Savingforcollege.com compiles and analyzes the information that will help parents and financial professionals ease the pain of constantly rising tuition.