August 22nd, 2023

Your College Student’s Back to School List: Books, Tuition, Power of Attorney

Your College Student’s Back to School List: Books, Tuition, POA

                Back-to-school season is upon us again and many parents are embarking on the overwhelming task of sending their first child off to college. With such a milestone comes many weeks of planning, scheduling, and worrying. While dorm arrangements and meal plans may be priority items on to-do lists of parents and college students, Powers of Attorney and Advance Health Care Directives are often overlooked as necessary documents to have in place before the start of the semester.

                Although many parents trust their children to make decisions and access bank accounts, a Power of Attorney is still a helpful document to have in the event of emergencies where a child is unable to access funds or pay college bills. This becomes even more important for children who are attending school abroad or out of state. A durable financial Power of Attorney may allow the parent to move funds to the child’s account, pay expenses, and obtain school records.

                Colleges and universities that receive funds under applicable programs of the U.S. Department of Education are also subject to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)[1]. Pursuant to FERPA, schools must have written permission from a student who is over the age of 18 to release any information from the student’s education record, even to parents or family members who pay tuition. An exception is made for parents or guardians who claim the student as dependent for tax purposes. Absent written consent, Power of Attorney, or both, a court order may be required to obtain your child’s education record in the event of emergency or extenuating circumstances[2].

                Like the financial Power of Attorney, an Advance Health Care Directive can allow a parent to make medical decisions for their adult child who is unable to make them during a medical emergency. In addition to listing the designated family members who are authorized to speak with physicians and make medical decisions, the Advance Health Care Directive further sets forth the student’s wishes with respect to “end-stage” medical conditions and organ donations. Without an Advance Health Care Directive, seemingly simple tasks such as filling prescriptions, scheduling medical appointments, or obtaining your child’s medical records, may become difficult.

                Your child made it to their dream school with your guidance and support. Proper planning will allow you to continue to guide them in this next stage of their education. For assistance with your child’s college planning, contact the experienced Estates Team at Gross McGinley and embark on the college journey with peace of mind.

[1] 20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99

[2] Id.

Attorney Yekaterina “Kathy” Bacenet is a skilled and dedicated attorney providing innovative solutions with the Gross McGinley Estates Team guiding her clients through matters of Wills, Trusts & POA, Estate Planning, Elder Law, and more.

The content found in this resource is for informational reference use only and is not considered legal advice. Laws at all levels of government change frequently and the information found here may be or become outdated. It is recommended to consult your attorney for the most up-to-date information regarding current laws and legal matters.