Comprehensive College Dorm Checklist for Students

College Dorm Checklist

The time to start preparing for college dorm life is approaching and the need for a comprehensive college dorm checklist of items to bring is great. The checklist for a college freshman should have both materialistic items on it, but also the legal documents needed for different parental supervisions.  Many people overlook the legal documents and focus on what is needed for the dorm room. First things first, if you haven’t already been, be sure to visit the ultimate guide to paying for college as certain financial matters are time-sensitive.

Below you will find the legal checklist you will need, along with a printable version of the college dorm items that are necessary. With every big move, it is vital to have all these matters organized before your child begins their next adventure, college!

Our College Dorm Room and Legal Checklist is helpful for the first-time college-bound student but can also be helpful to the student transitioning to a new college.  

Legal Checklist

As part of the college transition plan, parents should create a legal checklist of items to complete this summer.  In most states, the legal age to be considered an adult is 18.  This means that some legal and privacy rules change even though your college-bound child is still on your insurance and are included as dependents on your taxes.  These items include medical, legal, banking, and insurance items that should be checked before your child leaves for college.

What does this mean as a parent?  It means that you really have no right to see their grades, make medical decisions, or speak with their doctor.  This can be very upsetting if something happens and you are not allowed access to their information.

 Here is a list of the major legal documents you will need:

Legal Checklist


We often talk about having your child be accountable for their educational process.  This means having an open discussion of creating a student repayment plan: things to consider as well as realistic expectations about the future outcome of the education.  A great starting place for discussion of paying for college can be found in the ultimate guide to student loans. Most parents are unaware of the privacy right the students have once in college.  The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act is a federal law that deals with the privacy of a student’s educational records.  Parents can obtain a FERPA release so that they are able to speak to their child’s college about their educational record.  Before this is obtained you will need your child’s permission.  This release is often found within the student portal under their student ID.  In divorce or separated situations, the non-custodial parent may have a harder time getting this access.


Medically, your child will be required to get the appropriate boosters so that they can enter college.  It is recommended that you have a signed HIPAA authorization form for your child.  What you need to do is have the HIPAA Authorization signed by your child giving your permission to speak to their doctor if they should get sick while they are away at college.  It is important to be able to get access to their health records in case of an emergency.


Another medical form that you may want to consider signing is called HCPOA or Health Care Power of Attorney.  Hopefully, you will never need this while your child is away at school.  The HCPOA will allow a parent to be named as the individual who will have the power to act on their adult child’s behalf if they are sick and incapable of making decisions themselves.  Please see your family lawyer for this information.

 It is also recommended that you contact the college student life office to confirm if there are other documents that you may need.  Some states and colleges do require multiple forms or versions of different documents.  You will also need to get access to your child’s grades.  This permission is often an option listed on the student portal of the future college and needs to be activated by the student.  First-time college parents often do not realize this.

Health Insurance Check

Colleges now require healthcare insurance before you can enroll.  In many cases, this is part of your billing from the college and is not removed until the student’s healthcare insurance is verified.  Paying for dual insurance is a waste of money and should be part of your review of your bill.


This summer many of the college-bound students have a scheduled freshman orientation date.  Besides getting to know the college, students should try to identify a bank or the ATM machines that are on or near campus.  This is done for three major reasons: safety, convenience, and avoidance of bank fees. Often, banks have special student bank accounts that are designed for college students and give parents access to transfer money. A call ahead of time can also give you this information and allow you to be better prepared.  You may also want to establish a link with your bank account and theirs in case funds need to be transferred quickly


College students spend a lot of money on the physical items needed to make a successful transition to college.  Some of these items like the personal computer and TV are expensive. Whether your child is in a dorm or in an off-campus apartment you should consider protecting their property.  Check and see if your homeowner’s insurance will cover their possessions or if you need further coverage.  The new computer equipment can be expensive if you need to replace it.  Make sure you review the cost and deductibles before purchasing these policies.  If your child will be living off-campus you may also want to look into some type of renter’s insurance depending on their situation and valuables that they will have at school.

The last item deals with car insurance.  It is often overlooked but may save you a little money. If your child will not be taking a car you may want to check if a discount on your auto rate is eligible while they are living at school. There is normally a distance requirement to get that college student discount.

 Dorm Room Checklist

 As stated above, to help students make a smooth transition into college, PayForED has created a packing list you can print if you need additional packing ideas.  It can be a great starting point for families.

 We do recommend you contact your roommate. One way to minimize some of your college expenses is by not duplicating items.  It is also always beneficial to check the college website.  Here a student can check the dimensions of the room and find out what will fit.  For many students, the dorm room will be a small space and understanding this will help them organize the room comfortably and not overstock the room with items that will not fit.


Creating an organized plan can help to minimize the stress of the transition to college for both the student and the parent.  The packing list and the legal checklist is a brief summary of some of the item college-bound students may need.  PayForED wishes you success in college and hope the transition to college goes smoothly.

Click here to download the PayForED Packing List.

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