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Parent Email—January 14, 2011

  • Campus Safety
  • Student Health Insurance
  • Seminar for Parents: Alcohol Use on Campus
  • Financial Information
  • January Topics
  • Campus Visits
  • Miscellaneous

With a new year and a new semester, many students come back to campus with optimism and and a list of New Year's resolutions. Students who are looking for academic assistance to improve their note taking, test taking, or study skills can find help at several locations throughout campus. Have students check the options for academic assistance on the One Stop website. Students who want to be more involved on campus can use the University's Engage! search engine to explore opportunities. If shaping up and feeling better are among the goals, the University Recreation Center is free and has plenty of workout and sports options. And to avoid stress, students can sign up for free classes in yoga, tai chi, and Pilates at Boynton Health Service.

We're excited to have our students back. It's been too quiet around here.

Campus Safety

We know that safety and security is an on-going concern among parents. Students, on the other hand, tend to feel that campus is their home, so of course it's safe. Throughout spring semester, students will be receiving safety reminders from various University offices, but we find that students benefit when they receive these messages from multiple sources. Some students may tune out messages from campus police or administrators, but they may listen to their parents. Still others won't hear the University's messages or their parents', but they will tune in to the messages from their friends. We ask for your help, and for the assistance of student leaders, in passing along messages for students to use common sense safety tips, be alert when they are walking across campus at night, and use the safety resources available to them.

Theft is the most common crime on campus, and in most cases, these are crimes of opportunity. Please remind your student to keep an eye on valuables and lock their residence hall room or apartment door as a force of habit. If your student received a new laptop, cell phone, camera, mp3 player, or other electronics or valuables over the holidays, please ask them to write down the registration numbers and leave a copy of the numbers in a safe place.

In case of a campus emergency, the University will send text messages to students through the TXT-U program. The text messaging service is limited to enrolled students, but students can sign up more than one cell phone number. Please encourage your student to sign up, and if you would like to receive the messages as well, ask them to add your cell phone number to their registration.

The University of Minnesota Police Department has posted some excellent videos on their website related to campus safety. The videos discuss some of the most common campus safety issues, and they feature students talking about real-life experiences. Among the topics are protecting property and identity, sexual assault, stalking, and everyday safety. Because the contract with the production company provides free access for students only, I'm sorry but non-students (including parents) do not have access to the videos. You might ask your student to look at one of the videos, though, and tell you what it covers. It may make for a good discussion.

Student Health Insurance

The University of Minnesota requires that all students have hospitalization insurance. For those who are not covered by their own, their parents', or an employer's health plan, a student health insurance plan is available. When students register for classes each semester, part of the registration process asks students to confirm their health coverage. If insurance information is not provided, students will be registered for—and will be billed for—the student health insurance. If your student did not have the necessary health insurance policy information when registering, it can still be provided by going to the One Stop website and linking to Health Plan Coverage in the right-hand column of that page.

Information about the student insurance plan is posted online. The good news, especially for seniors: Students who enroll in the student health insurance plan for spring semester are covered until August 26, 2011.

Seminar for Parents: Alcohol Use on Campus

Every college struggles with how to handle underage and dangerous drinking among its students. Like other colleges and universities, the University of Minnesota incorporates educational, behavioral, programming, and punitive efforts to promote good choices related to use of alcohol. We also believe that students' families and members of the community have a significant stake in the choices students make and the consequences of their decisions. Moreover, the messages parents deliver on alcohol use are among the most powerful that students can hear.

The University Parent Program has worked with the Department of Family Social Science and University of Minnesota Extension to develop a Seminar for Parents: Alcohol Use on Campus. Our hope is that the information in this online course will help parents better understand the dynamics of college drinking, and that families will continue their conversations about alcohol use throughout the college years.

The seminar is available at no cost. It includes information on how the drinking culture has changed since parents were 18 or 19 years old, campus and national data about college drinking, resources for information and assistance, and talking points for family members.

Please take a look at the course lessons. The seminar is somewhat lengthy—to go through all the material could take as much as two hours. Feel free to read bits at a time and refer to the course when questions or concerns arise. And please complete the evaluation when you've finished the course. We continue to assess the information and make changes to adapt the course to today's families.

Financial Information

For families whose student will be continuing in college next fall: As you're collecting information for filing income taxes, please also remember to work with your student in filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Even if you think your student will not qualify for financial aid, it's worth applying. Many families that qualify are unaware that they could be receiving aid, and the University uses the FAFSA information in determining financial aid packages.

The University will send 1098-T (tuition benefit income tax statement) forms by the end of January to students who qualify for the statements. The forms are mailed to students' home or permanent address, as listed in the University directory. Please ask your student to make sure her or his home/permanent address is up to date. Students can check their directory information and make corrections online at the One Stop website, linking to "Personal Information" in the right hand column.

If you have questions about the 1098-T forms or other education tax benefit information, please see the University's Tax Management website.

The first billing statement for spring semester will be emailed to your student on January 22, with the first payment due by February 16. Because of federal data privacy restrictions, bills are sent by email to students.

The full payment schedule for spring semester is posted online.

January Topics

This is the time of year when parents are asking how to receive verification of their student's attendance to meet the requirements of a health or auto insurance provider. Students can download a form to confirm their enrollment and to verify their grade point average (for "good driver discounts"). Students will need to sign the form and submit it to the One Stop office for verification.

We receive a number of questions in January about Dean's List notification. Each of the colleges within the University has its own Dean's List policy. In order to qualify, students must earn at least a 3.67 grade point average for the previous semester, and students must have taken 12 or more credits graded A-F. Students who have been named to the Dean's List will be notified by their college. Different colleges handle notification and Dean's List postings differently. Some colleges will notify hometown newspapers if the college knows the student's hometown (many students change their address records to reflect a campus area address), and if the student has signed a release of information for such notification. If you have questions about your student's qualifications or a specific college's policies on posting and notification, have your student check with his or her college's student services office or academic adviser.

Students who received good grades for fall semester may find they are receiving invitations to join honorary societies. Some of those societies will mention a membership fee. Before joining any student organization or group, we recommend that students consider why they want to join, how they will participate, and what the benefits of membership might be. A discussion of this topic is posted online.

More issues common to this time of the year are posted on the University Parent website.

Campus Visits

Parents who are coming to campus to visit their student will find University activities listed on the Events Calendar, and a list of hotels offering a discount to parents of U of M students on our Local Lodging page.

Miscellaneous

There are no classes on Monday, January 17, and the University will be closed because of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The Bookstore will be open extra hours throughout the weekend: Saturday hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday noon to 6 p.m.; Monday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Our December Parent Question of the Month asked what information parents are looking for when they go to the University Parent website. Most respondents say they're looking for general information or for parent communications, such as parent emails or newsletter articles. We are using the responses from that poll, along with a survey that was conducted last month, to help us redesign the University Parent website. You'll hear more about the redesign later this year. We have posted the full results of the December question on our "Past Survey Results" webpage.

Now we need your responses to our January Question! Please give us your responses. We use your insights in understanding and addressing parents' concerns.


Sincerely,
Marjorie Savage
Parent Program Director
University of Minnesota
www.parent.umn.edu