Frequently Asked Questions
Q. As a parent, where is the best place for me to find answers to my questions about issues concerning my student?
The Illini Union Parent Programs website! Always up-to-date, our site provides new information, dates, links to resources and departments to get you the information you need. You will want to bookmark our site and visit it often. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has a very extensive website as well.
Q. What are the drawbacks to dropping University Health Insurance?The University requires all students be covered by health insurance and provides a group health insurance plan for which the fee is automatically assessed along with other tuition and fees. The important benefit of the University insurance is that coverage will not be dropped if your student becomes a part-time student. Many private or group health insurance plans through employers require proof each semester of full-time status to be eligible for coverage. Emergencies or unplanned pregnancies may cause students to no longer maintain full-time status at a time when they need insurance the most. Check the Student Health Insurance website for questions you should ask your health insurance carrier before applying for an exemption. Note the exemption from the Student Insurance Fee remains in effect for the entire time you are a student, including going from undergraduate to graduate school. We also have a very informative article in our Feature Stories archive.
Q. Does my student need a local bank account?The main reason a student would need a local bank account is to deposit or cash checks from a part-time job, since most employers do not offer direct deposit. Be sure to talk to your student about ATM fees; consider using a debit card at local stores to get cash back if his/her bank's ATM cannot be found. Another good option is to open an account at the U of I Employees Credit Union. A branch is located in the Illini Union with a minimum balance of $5.00 required for membership. Visit the Credit Union for more information. Click here for a list of ATM'S located in the Illini Union.
If the student has a bank account locally, the checks can be cashed there. If she/he does not have a local bank, the checks can be cashed at a currency exchange on Green Street for a fee.
Q. Is a car a necessity on campus?Not really! Illinois' campus was designed for walking and riding a bicycle, and maintains extensive paths. Parking is very limited, and it is likely you will get a ticket or towed if you drive to class. Students pay a transportation fee that allows them unlimited access on the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District (MTD) bus system. MTD routes run both on campus and throughout the city of Champaign-Urbana. If your student does bring a car, a 24/7 parking space can be rented. Get more information on parking, the Cash Key program, and the Motorist Assistance program from the Parking Division.
Q. Is it possible to access my student's financial and academic records?Yes, access to financial and academic records is possible, but only with the student's consent, or by demonstrating that the student is a dependent as defined by the IRS. Your student must establish that individuals (such as a parent, guardian, or sponsor) may view his/her student account billing information and allow that person to make online payments. The procedure for how to do this is found at the University Student Financial Services & Cashier Operations Web site.
In most cases, students are willing to share this information with you, so we encourage you to keep those lines of communication open. Students can print out a copy of their grades to send to you. A student can grant access to his/her parent/guardian to academic records only by completing and returning a consent form. Students must contact the Office of the Registrar (217-333-6565) and complete the form in person. For more information on student privacy rights, see our FERPA article.
Q. Who gets the bills?The University views your student as an adult, and is required by federal law to protect his or her privacy as such. Students (and Authorized Payers) must retrieve their student account billing information online. Once a month, the University of Illinois e-mails students and Authorized Payers, reminding them to view their student account for recent activity and to pay any amount due by the due date. The student account is available online for students and Authorized Payers to view and print, and includes all student account transactions such as: payments received, and charges and credits for tuition, fees, and housing. The University does not mail paper billing statements. It is a good idea to discuss this before Move-in Day. The tuition and fees charges are assessed soon after students arrive on campus and have to be paid in a fairly short period of time. Deciding who will write the first big check is important. If you have questions about bills or payments, visit the USFSCO website or call (217) 333-2180 (Phone hours are 8 a.m.- 5 p.m., Monday-Friday).
Q. How and when do students get their grades??
At the end of each semester, students may view their grades online on Student Self-Service. Mid-term grades are also available for new first-time freshmen. For more information on grades visit the Office of the Registrar website.
Q. Can my student charge her/his books and supplies?Students can purchase books and supplies by using cash, check, or credit cards. The costs of books and supplies for courses can vary widely. Students can purchase new or used books. Bookstores have lists of required books for each course. Students can sell books back at the end of the semester if they choose to. The Illini Union Bookstore is the official University of Illinois Bookstore and focuses primarily on the needs and interests of University of Illinois students. Conveniently located at 809 South Wright Street, on the corner of Wright and Daniel, the Illini Union Bookstore brings together all members of the university community. You can also purchase all of your books and merchandise online by visiting http://www.uofibookstore.illinois.edu. A few more highlights:
• All proceeds support student programs and activities
• Students are guaranteed to find every textbook for every class
• 29% off used textbooks
• 4% off new textbooks
• 40% off e–books
• Large selection of general books, office and art supplies, and university apparel
Q. What can I do if my student wants to come home every weekend?It is normal for your student to be homesick when first arriving on campus. One semester is the average length of time for everyone to adjust to the change. Wanting to visit friends at home or at another college sometimes explains why your student wants to leave campus. This may delay adjustment to college life.
An important thing for you as a parent to realize is that until new close friendships are made, you may be the one your student confides in about day-to-day problems. Parents can become overly anxious when, in fact, the student just needed someone to listen. The next time you talk to your student, he/she may not even remember the problem. Usually when your student gets involved in new activities and meets new people things improve.
For more information on student involvement, see our Featured Article by the Assistant Director for Student Programs and Activities. Also visit the Web sites of the Illini Union Board, Registered Student Organization Office, Student Programs and Activities, and the Office of Volunteer Programs.
Q. Do you have any suggestions on how to help my student adjust?Encourage your student to stay at school. Suggest he/she check out student organizations on Quad Day during Welcome Week and get involved. There are more than 1,200 Registered Student Organizations (RSO) and many students make new friends who have similar interests through these organizations. The RSO complex is located on the 2nd floor of the Illini Union in Room 284, open weekdays between 8:30 AM and 5:00 PM.
If possible go to campus and visit your student. Take them out to lunch or dinner. Make sure your student has a chance to communicate regularly with your family, especially siblings. Keep in touch using the phone, text messages, e-mails and instant messages. Send cards - electronic cards or creating them on your computer sends the personal message you want and can be faster than trying to find the right one at the store.
You can order care packages from various companies and have them sent to your student or you could call a local business that makes cookies for delivery. Check your local businesses for Champaign-Urbana locations or go to the Champaign Chamber of Commerce Web site.
If you are concerned about a serious problem, refer your student to the Counseling Center. Their phone number is 217-333-3704
Q. If I'm traveling by air, what's the most convenient way to get to Champaign-Urbana?Willard Airport is just south of Champaign on Neil St., and is actually a University of Illinois operated airport. The Bloomington Regional Airport is another great option, and is only about 45 minutes north west of Champaign. Another option is the Decatur Airport and it is approximately 45 minutes southwest of Champaign. The Indianapolis International Airport is approximately 1 ½ hours east of Champaign. Visit the Directions to Campus Web site for more information.
Q. How can parents stay involved in their student's experience?That's easy - volunteer with the Moms and Dads Associations! Through our activities, you can meet and work with other interested and involved parents. We sponsor activities that bring you onto campus, and there is always free time to get together with your student. Start by attending an event, maybe the Illini Parent 101 Workshops in September. This event is a parent orientation that introduces you to programs and resources available to your student and gives you the opportunity to meet and talk with University faculty, staff and administrators. The Boards of Directors of the Moms and Dads Associations are also on hand to share insights, experiences and information on how to join the organizations and be part of the incredible work they do for this great University. The Dads Weekend in the fall and Moms Weekend in the spring are designed for parents to visit campus and attend a variety of events and activities with their students. We want to build a productive, healthy partnership with all Illinois families, and the Illini Union Parent Programs Office and the Associations want to help nuture that relationship. Anytime you have a question or concern, you may call the IUPPO or e-mail any one of the Board of Directors and County Reps.
Q. In short, what is the general advice for parents?
- Be proud of your students.
- Enjoy the summer, because peace and quiet can be loud and startling to adult ears.
- Teach them how to balance a checkbook and how to budget their money each month.
- Discuss the financial basics such as who is responsible for paying what and how financial exchanges will be made.
- Teach them how to do laundry, or give them black and navy blue sheets and towels.
- Remind them that you want to learn about their experiences at U of I and communicate with them.
- Encourage them to explore interests and passions, and to talk with advisors, career counselors and others along the way.
- Communicate about how often you expect to hear from your student. Be reasonable, because your student will get busy! Once a week is often a good base to work from.
- Know that saying goodbye can be difficult and there are others who are sharing your experience. It helps to talk about it.
- Do not immediately change their home space- their bedrooms mean a lot to them.
- Do no move without telling them. They will find you and be upset.
- Do not be surprised if brothers and sisters who used to fight miss one another a lot.
- Take time for yourself. You have done a great job and should reward yourself.
- Trust them. They have learned a great deal from you.
- Be prepared for the changes that come with growth. You will be growing and changing, too.
- Come to campus to visit them from time to time. Phone first. Let them show you their new world.