What Parents of New College Freshmen Need to Know
Updated: Jul 20
Your recent graduate may be thinking they are all grown up and ready to be out on their own but wait a minute! Who is still going to be providing them a car, insurance, spending money, and oh yea the big one college tuition money? Parents, I bet many of you are still taking care of these expenses, but did you know now that your child turns 18 that you can no longer have access to their school or medical records without their consent. Yes, that is true even if you are paying all the bills. You may be asking why?
FERPA is the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which is a Federal Law. This law was put in place to protect the privacy of student educational records. Once a student turns eighteen or attends school beyond high school the rights of access to the student’s record transfer to the student. This may not sound fair, but it is the law.
The best way around this is to have open communication lines with your child and simply ask for their academic records. Remember we do want our children to grow-up, so the best way to approach this subject is to have meaningful conversations and set expectations. Put the responsibility in the hands of the student to do the right thing and present their academic records to you.
If, as a parent, you feel that you still want to have access to your college student’s records there is a way for you to gain the access, but your student must be willing to sign a consent form that allows designated individuals access to their academic records. Just because this consent has been signed does not mean that you will automatically receive all grade reports and transcripts. This only grants you the right to ask for the academic records. So, anytime you feel the need to see your college student’s academic records you will have to ask for them and generally that will have to be a written request and may even require documentation of the student’s dependency as defined in the IRS Code.
Now let’s talk about your college student’s health records and information. Under HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability Accountability Act, when your child turns 18 you no longer have access to their medical information even if they are still covered by your health insurance. You do not want to wait until you are in a situation where you need and want to help your college student but, because the proper forms have not been filled out, you will not be able to gain access to the needed information to help your loved one.
So instead of shopping for dorm room necessities and décor, you need to stop and take care of this important matter. This cannot wait…what if something happened to your child tonight. Would you be able to have access to his/her medical information? So, you may be asking what forms do we need? First, you will want to get a HIPAA Privacy Authorization Form or HIPAA Release Form. This form will allow you to have access to your child’s health information. The other form that you will want to have is a Medical Power of Attorney. In the case where your college student could become incapacitated and cannot make decisions for themselves, this will allow the parent or whoever is granted Medical Power of Attorney to step in to make the needed decisions.
If your college student is going to college in another state, you will want to make sure that he/she has each of these forms completed for your home state as well as the state where they are attending college. Once these forms are complete you will want to make sure you have them in a place that is easily accessible, as well as a digital file that you can access from your mobile device in case of an emergency and provide them to your local health professionals. You will also want to make sure to send a copy with your student to deliver to the school’s clinic.
Where to find the FERPA, HIPAA, and Medical Power of Attorney Forms
FERPA Form—Can usually be obtained at the student’s school or for a sample form go to https://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/safeschools/modelform2.html?fbclid=IwAR0T5nCsxNh_6euB4hHGgKIRw0MSu6Q8By8DKer8qSzGyWTozVjGdyvETRQ
HIPAA Form—Google “HIPAA Form Your State” (Example: HIPPA Form Texas)
Medical Power of Attorney https://powerofattorney.com/
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