Rampulla & Newstad LLP

Legal Documents that College Students Shouldn’t Leave Home Without

It is a daunting task to prepare for your child to go to college. Now that the enrollment deposit has been paid, the dorm application is complete, and you’ve purchased their first official college sweatshirt, you can breathe – right? Not necessarily. College is an exciting and emotional time for both parents and students. As parents, we are sometimes so consumed with raising our children, that we tend to see them as just that – children. However, the truth is, in the eyes of the law, the apron strings are cut the moment they turn 18.

Any number of emergencies or disputes could arise when a student goes off to college. Issues such as a disagreement with a landlord, a speeding ticket, or heaven forbid – an accident. Parents lose the ability to make medical decisions, financial decisions, or obtain grades and disciplinary information from their child’s school once the child is 18 years old, even if the parents are the ones writing the check. So what does this mean for you and your child?

If your student would like for you to continue to be involved in those important decisions, they would need to complete legal documents that would allow you to intercede on their behalf.

Here are five important legal documents recommended for your college aged child:

  1. Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA) Waiver
  2. Healthcare Power of Attorney
  3. Living Will
  4. HIPAA Release
  5. Financial Power of Attorney


The Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act transfers the rights of educational information such as transcripts, GPAs, enrollment status, financial aid, and class schedules to the student when they reach the age of 18 (with few exceptions). The FERPA waiver allows the student to appoint a parent (or other adult) to receive educational records and information.

Healthcare Power of Attorney

A medical power of attorney allows parents the ability to make vital medical decisions if their adult child is incapacitated or otherwise unable to do so.

Living Will

A living will outlines the student’s preferences for end-of-life medical care, donating of organs, and life-extending medical treatment in the event they are in a vegetative state for an extended period of time.

HIPAA Release

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Release authorizes healthcare professionals to release medical information such as diagnosis, medication, treatments, and test results to a designated person(s). Without this authorization, doctors are prohibited from giving this information to parents.

Financial Power of Attorney

Once your child reaches the age of 18, their finances also become private. While it is a good idea to set up a joint bank account so that you can deposit money for food, books, and other necessities, it is also important to have a financial or durable power of attorney in place. This will allow the parents to pay bills in the event the student is incapacitated. This also allows parents to be able to renew car registrations, sign titles, or complete financial transactions for students in the event they are unable.

These important documents should be completed when your child turns 18 or at the latest, when they leave for college. If the student is going to a college out-of-state, it may be necessary to complete documents that comply with each state’s requirements.

To learn more about legal documents for college students, schedule an appointment with the estate planning attorneys of Rampulla & Newstad LLP.