By Amanda Thomas, MS, CFP®
Client Advisor at Mission Wealth
Your child has been accepted to college, and while they have the best intentions of doing well in school, sometimes the adjustment to being on their own doesn’t translate into good study habits or grades. However, while you still have time before they begin, what can you do to ensure that you both have an understanding of expectations, responsibility, and accountability?
I recently read about a “parent-student contract” that details what steps both the child and the parent will take during the child’s college years. Both the parent and the child sign the contract and agree to its terms. Here are some examples of general items that each may agree to:
- What GPA they must maintain
- Attend all classes
- Employment or part time job requirements and how many hours per week
- Graduate in X number of years
- Should they drop a class, the child is responsible to pay for any replacement class
- If living at home, what chores are expected
- Abide by the college rules and make good use of private study time
- Be helpful, supportive and respect the child as an adult
- Pay for X% of tuition, room, board, books and fees
- Pay for X% of transportation to and from the college
- Health insurance on their policy, valued at $X a year
- To provide emergency financial support as needed within their ability
So, how do you monitor some of these items, such as grades and class attendance?
If you are paying for college costs, many parents want to see how the child is doing, so they can address any issues before they are a problem.
But how do you do that? There is a federal law – the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) – that was enacted to protect the privacy of student education records. You will not be able to access your child’s records (if they are 18 or older) from the college without the child’s written permission.
However, nowadays, grades and classes are posted online to the college website via the child’s username and password.
As part of the parent-student contract, the child should agree to give the parent the username and password so the parent can monitor the grades and classes the child has signed up for. If the child refuses to do this, then perhaps there needs to be a different discussion on why the parent is paying for something for which they can’t see the progress or results.
I have heard numerous stories from parents of their children not attending classes and/or failing, and the parents find out only after a year or so. By then, the child is on school probation, and may have to reapply to gain acceptance again.
Typically, in these situations, the child has had a hard time adjusting to a big school, or perhaps they don’t have good study habits, or maybe they have been having too good of a time partying. If the parent can monitor the grades and classes, they can catch any problems before things get problematic.
MS, CFP®, CDFA™
About the Author
Amanda has over 30 years of financial experience. Prior to joining Mission Wealth in 2006, Amanda spent 11 years as a Vice President in Private Banking at Northern Trust Bank in Santa Barbara, working with high net worth clients and their banking, investment, and trust needs.