Checklist for FS Families with College-Aged Children

Moving overseas and leaving college-aged children in the United States?  Here are some tips to ease the transition and help you plan for the logistics.  Also see International Communication:  Ways to Stay in Touch and College Application FAQs from the Family Liaison Office.

Money Issues

  • Discuss allowances and money issues before student goes to college.
  • Find a reliable way to transfer money to your student (e.g. AMEX Student Card, linked bank accounts)
  • Arrange for online bill pay / tuition payments.
  • Inform your son/daughter about student loan paperwork, if necessary.
  • Many colleges and universities offer special student plans with local banks or cash machines on campus. Explore options during first week orientation. Set up a local bank account with ATM card and teach student to write checks, balance checkbook, manage credit card payments, etc.
  • Make sure any income earned during the year can be easily deposited.
  • Ask your child to keep records (W-2, pay receipts) for tax purposes, if necessary.


  • Think about purchasing bedding, dorm decorations, and other supplies upon arrival at the university or college, or buying items online and shipping them directly to the student once he/she is settled into the dorm. Remember that the airlines limit how much you can carry with you.
  • Many Foreign Service teens heading off to college from overseas posts do not have driver’s licenses. Discuss with your student how and when they will get their license and/or take driver’s education classes. If your student does not have a driver’s license, go to the local Department of Motor Vehicles with your child and purchase a State ID.
  • Explore availability of Zip-Cars (if your child has a license) or other forms of transportation on campus.

Documents, Contacts, & Communication

  • Provide the institution with primary contacts, including you in your foreign location AND a state-side relative or friend.
  • Provide your college student with a listing of relatives’ home phone, cell phones, work phones, addresses, and e-mails.
  • Make sure your student has a safe place to store the passport, medical immunization card, checkbook and credit cards. Purchasing a small safe for under the bed is a good option.
  • Have your student load an “ICE” number (nearby relative or friend) in cell phone.
  • Determine your communication plan -- how often will you talk over the phone, Skype, text, or e-mail.
  • Cell Phones: Before you leave for post, research the various cell phone options and plans for your student. Make sure your plan has international dial.

Health & Safety

  • Talk to your student about safety on and off campus. Students who are coming from overseas may not understand security concerns in larger urban areas or U.S. college campus life.
  • Talk about an emergency action plan – who will they contact when in distress? Know the phone number for “public safety” on campus or local police.
  • Make sure student has a copy of your family health insurance card and knows how to file a claim (who is the primary provider and the address associated with the insurance).
  • Be aware that the University might automatically bill you for their student health insurance plan and it is your responsibility to waive that coverage if the student is staying on your family health insurance.
  • Once your child turns 21, they may be automatically canceled from your health insurance policy. See for information about continuing coverage until age 26.
  • Discuss health issues with student, have good supply of medication (if appropriate) on hand.
  • If need be, transfer pharmacies and talk to doctors about change.

Travel / Visitation Considerations

  • Parents should be prepared to travel back to the U.S. in rare, special situations.
  • Ask your student for a schedule of vacation times (or check the school website) so that you can purchase plane tickets ahead of time to save money.
  • Find out when the dorms close for vacation periods and if there are exceptions for students who need to stay longer.
  • Discuss how many times the student will be able to visit you at post and how often you will come to them.
  • Explore the college website to view options for how your child can get to an airport for an international flight and back to school after a visit. Options include campus shuttles, buses, train stations, cabs, carpools, limos.
  • Be prepared for lots of college-aged visitors when posted overseas. What will they do when visiting you and what are your ground rules?

Work Options

  • If your child plans to return to post the summer months, explore what kinds of job opportunities are available at post.
  • If your child wants to remain in the U.S. for the summer, help determine work and living options.
  • During the school year, explore what options are available on campus to earn extra cash.
  • If your student is on a work-study program, explore the timing of work requirements.


UAB: An EFM (on orders) on educational or educational allowance travel may have an unaccompanied air baggage shipment (UAB) as indicated in DSSR 277.2.  The The UAB weight allowance for educational travel is 250 pounds. See Question 8 in Allowances' FAQs for Educational Travel.

Educational Travel: An EFM (on orders) also receives one round trip between the post and the school completed within a 12-month period as indicated in DSSR 285.1. Please see 283.4 for Cost Construction of Travel in Other Situations. Educational travel may originate from either the school or the post. See Question 8 in Allowances' FAQs for Educational Travel for more details.

Other Resources: Student Storage

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