Survival toolkit for college students


One of the first student tips we offer is our post about college students and insurance. We also have a grab-bag of useful tools, advice, and college prep resources — a mini college survival reference guide. We cover everything from safety & security to dorm room advice, with tips from experts. Plus, we offer a variety of links to advice for how to eat healthy while in college, including recipes.

Safety & security

Campus Security Checklist

Security Safety Checklist

Campus and dorm fires

Campus and dorm fire safety tips

Common College scams

9 Ways to Stay Safe on Your College Campus

General college survival advice

Using College Checklists to Plan and Organize Move-in Weekend

What to Bring for Campus Living and How to Pack in 3 Easy Steps

List of Items Not to Bring to College: Dorm Room Contraband

Off-to-College Checklist

Surviving the College Life

36 Life Hacks Every College Student Should Know

First year tips

25 Tips to Help You Survive Your Freshman Year (PDF)

10 Tips To Survive Your First Year Of College

Your First Year of College: 25 Strategies and Tips to Help You Survive and Thrive Your Freshman Year and Beyond

42 College Tips I Learned Freshman Year

Healthy dining in the dorms

22 Healthy College Recipes You Can Make in Your Dorm Room

27 Ways To Eat Like An Adult In College

24 Easy Dorm Snacks for When You Want to Eat Healthier

10 Easy Ways to Eat Healthy in College (It’s Possible, We Promise!)

15 Essential Non-Perishable Foods to Keep In Your Dorm Room

College survival guide: Safety tips, what to pack, dorm hacks


Students walking on campus On University Campus

Recently, we posted about college students and insurance. Today, we have some additional college prep resources — sort of an all-purpose college survival guide. First and foremost we have links to several safety & security checklists because all the insurance in the world won’t help if you don’t make safety a priority. We also have links to what to pack guides, tips for first year students and advice for how to eat healthy while in college.

Campus Security Checklist

Security Safety Checklist

Campus and dorm fires

Campus and dorm fire safety tips

What to Bring for Campus Living and How to Pack in 3 Easy Steps

List of Items Not to Bring to College: Dorm Room Contraband

Off-to-College Checklist

10 Tips To Survive Your First Year Of College

Your First Year of College: 25 Strategies and Tips to Help You Survive and Thrive Your Freshman Year and Beyond

42 College Tips I Learned Freshman Year

27 Ways To Eat Like An Adult In College

10 Easy Ways to Eat Healthy in College (It’s Possible, We Promise!)

36 Life Hacks Every College Student Should Know

Kids heading off to college? Double check insurance coverage first


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If you have a child headed off to college, it’s time to check your current insurance policies and have a talk with your insurance agent to ensure your student has adequate protection.

Homeowners / renters insurance
If your student will be living in a dorm, their possessions may be covered by your homeowners policy for perils like fire, theft, vandalism and natural disasters such as a hurricane. But your coverage may have limits – the Insurance Information Institute (III) explains:

“Other policies may limit the amount of coverage for a college student’s belongings to 10 percent of the total amount of a policy’s overall coverage for personal possessions. So if parents have $100,000 worth of personal possessions insurance for the family’s primary residence, for example, only $10,000 would be applicable to possessions in their youngster’s dorm room.”

If your student has expensive electronic equipment, as many students do, you should check limits to ensure you have adequate coverage. Laptops, smartphones, tablets and TVs can add up! Plus, talk over cost/benefit scenarios related to deductibles with your agent. You want them high enough to keep insurance rates reasonable but not so high that it will create a hardship to replace a stolen laptop.

Not in a dorm? If students will be living in an apartment, your homeowners probably will not cover them. Renters insurance is inexpensive and may be the best bet. See our recent post that covers myths and misconceptions about renters insurance.

Auto insurance
If your student is under the age of 25 and college is within 100 miles of your home, he or she may be covered by your policy. If further than 100 miles away, the student still may be covered on your policy if they only drive while visiting your home. If your student will only be driving while on college breaks, talk to your agent to see if this could help to lower rates – you may be able to get a discount.

If your student will be 100+ miles away with a car, a separate policy may be required. Talk to your agent to determine the best option for your situation. III also suggests checking to see if your student is eligible for any “good student” discounts or whether safe driver training programs could reduce rates.

Tuition Insurance
Check to see what the college refund policy is. If tuition is very high, you may want to talk to your agent about a specialty tuition reimbursement insurance coverage that would kick in if the student had to leave school due to an unforeseen illness or physical disability – or in the event of the student’s death. Typically, these plans do not provide reimbursement for students who are expelled or who decide to leave the college for other reasons.

Identity theft insurance
Students are at high risk for identity theft. You may want to educate them about safety concerns and it might be worth investing in an ID theft protection product.

Stand-alone coverage for electronics

III suggests this option: “Parents may want to look into acquiring stand-alone policies for desktop computers, laptops, tablets and iPads, and other electronics as they may provide coverage against accidental damage, liquid spills and other events not included under a standard homeowners or renters policy. Keep in mind that if you are using a credit card to buy such items, some insurance protection may also be available through the card itself.”

ID theft is on the upswing and college students are at high risk


U.S. identity fraud is at an all-time high, and recent reports indicate that college students are at particular risk for ID theft, partly because it often takes them twice as long to learn that they have been swindled. Studies show that most fraud begins occurring with a week from when the data is stolen. But because college kids are less likely to track banking and credit card activity on a routine and timely basis, the fraud often goes undetected longer.

Additional risks that make college students susceptible to ID theft:
So-called “friendly fraud” — fraud perpetrated by friends and family — accounts for one in seven fraud cases.
College students are very active on social media sites, and may unwittingly share more sensitive information than they realize.
To deter ID theft, experts offer the following tips:

  • Monitor your financial accounts regularly
  • Be cautious about sharing identifying information on social networking sites
  • Learn how to recognize and be alert for phishing scams
  • Use secure passwords and change them frequently
  • Log out of your computer when you are not using it
  • Keep your computer up to date with the latest spyware and anti-virus software

For more resources on identity fraud, see the Federal Trade Commission’s Identity Theft Site and the FBI’s e-scams & warnings page.

Identity Theft Insurance

You may want to consider Identity Theft Insurance, but first be sure you learn more about what it does and doesn’t cover before you purchase – many people have misconceptions. Also, check to see how any existing coverage you have, such as Homeowners, might protect you. And do your homework before purchasing. Check The National Association of Insurance Commissioners Consumer Alert, which notes that while policies are available, they do not protect you from becoming a victim of identity theft and do not cover direct monetary losses incurred as result of identity theft. Rather, they insure you for any costs that might be incurred in reclaiming your identity, such as hiring an attorney, taking time from work, and any administrative costs such as the cost of phone calls or postage.

Meet the Class of 2013 – wired, hip … and hopefully adequately insured


Each August since 1998, as millions of freshmen prepare to embark on their college years, Beloit College has released the Beloit College Mindset List, which provides a look at the cultural environment that has shaped the lives of those students. For those of us with a few more years under out belts, the list can be startling. For the Class of 2013, “… Carter and Reagan are as distant to them as Truman and Eisenhower were to their parents. Tattoos, once thought “lower class,” are, to them, quite chic. Everybody knows the news before the evening news comes on.”
For this year’s freshmen, Martha Graham, Pan American Airways, Michael Landon, Dr. Seuss, Miles Davis, and Freddie Mercury have always been dead. Smoking has never been glorified, books have always been available on an electronic screen, and wars have always unfolded on TV in real time. We’ve given you a sampling of the data points, but the entire list makes for some fun reading. You can also check back to 1998 for archived lists.
Some things never change
While the cultural zeitgeist might change, one thing never changes: Parents want to ensure that students are safe and secure while away at school. As your students head off to school, it’s important take steps to ensure that they are adequately covered by insurance and make sure they understand the coverage and benefits that are available to them. If your student will be living away from home, you should ensure that they have emergency contact numbers and that they know how to report a claim if a loss or accident occurs. Some of the insurance coverage issues you need to consider include:
Health insurance – Will your student be covered under your policy or will you need to arrange coverage? Many family policies will cover full-time students but you need to check how the insurance company defines full time. Also, check your plan’s benefits, coverage area, and coverage requirements. If your student is an athlete, check coverage limits – you may need to arrange for additional coverage.
Auto insurance – Will your student have a car full-time at their college? If so, they may need their own policy. If not, you may be able to save money on your policy if they are only using your car intermittently. Ask if any “good student” or “safe driver” credits are available to your student – availability may depend on the state and the insurance company.
Personal possessions – Theft is the most common crime on college campuses. If your student will live in a dorm, personal possessions may be covered under your existing homeowner’s policy, but if they are living in an apartment, they may need rental insurance. Don’t assume that the college or the landlord will have coverage that will encompass your child’s possession in the event of fire, theft, or loss – check your homeowner’s policy to learn the extent of your coverage – you may need additional insurance if your student has expensive electronic equipment.
Of course, these are just the basics. There are other issues like ID theft, credit cards, life insurance, and more. Remember, many insurance matters are state-specific and governed by state laws. Often, state insurance bureaus offer consumer alerts so check with your state’s website.
Here are more resources to help you plan for the insurance needs of your college students:
College Insurance Needs – issued in 2008 from the Massachusetts Division of Insurance
Parents: Know your insurance policies before your student goes off to school – a 2009 Consumer Alert from the Kansas Insurance Department
College-Bound? Keep an Eye on Your GPA and Your Personal Possessions – insurance advice and safety tips from the Insurance Information Institute
What Your College Student Needs to Know about Identity Theft – a Consumer Alert from the National Association of Insurance Commisioners
Heading Off to College With an Empty Wallet? – tips for managing money while away at school from the Insurance Information Institute
College Athletes Often underinsured
College Health and Safety Tips
Campus Safety Tips