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Useful Documents For A New College Student

Fall is in the air and you, like many, may be sending your child off to college for the first time! Often, this is the first time a child (or for most -- newly minted adult!) will be on their own. Before your student is fully wrapped up in dorm life, consider whether these documents may be.

1. HIPAA AUTHORIZATION and ADVANCE DIRECTIVE. HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) prohibits a parent’s access to their child’s medical (physical and mental) records if that child is over the age of 18. By signing a HIPAA authorization, a child giver permission for doctors and other medical professionals to communicate with the parent. The school may have their own HIPAA form. You should also consider having a HIPAA on file with your child’s primary care physician.

2. ADVANCE DIRECTIVE. In addition, by signing the Advance Directive, the child preemptively names a parent to make medical decisions on behalf of the child if the child is unable. In most cases, the Advance Directive can be found through the child’s health provider or through a public website for the state where the student will be attending school.

3. FERPA AUTHORIZATION. FERPA (The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) is a federal law that serves to keep student academic records confidential between the educational institution and the student. A FERPA authorization opens the door for a parent to gain information about a student’s academic performance and have open communication with the institution. You should contact the school directly about this document.

4. POWER OF ATTORNEY. Most college students are just starting to navigate the world of financial independence and responsibility and many parents prefer to continue to keep an eye on the child’s financial situation. In some instances this may mean jointly owned back accounts. In other situations, where the student may have a separate or individual bank account, it may be prudent for the child to appoint the parent as Agent under a Power of Attorney. This document allows the parent access to the individual bank accounts. This type of document can be found through online legal forms website (e.g. or through consultation with an attorney. For more information, contact Attorney Emily Hogan at 503.786.8191 or To learn more about Emily, check out her bio.


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