Parent & Guardian FAQs

Now that your students are preparing for college, you may find yourself asking a number of questions about how to help prepare them for their transition. The questions below are what many families often ask throughout the summer and early fall:

Health Alerts & Re-Approaching Stanford


Before You Arrive

Housing & Dining

Financial & Medical




Student Academics

Looking Ahead


Where can I get updated information about COVID-19 and Stanford?

We encourage you to frequently check the Health Alerts webpage,, for posted updates, announcements, and information about COVID-19. Click here to subscribe to email updates from Health Alerts.

You can also go to a new website, Re-Approaching Stanford, for detailed information for undergraduate students about returning to campus from the Vice Provost for Student Affairs and the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education.

What can I do to help my student prepare over the summer?

The Approaching Stanford Handbook is their main resource for this transition. You’re welcome to review it as well - we hope you will encourage your student to refer to the Handbook or to contact our office by email or phone when they have questions.

Students are responsible for reading University communications (by checking their email) and completing required actions this summer, including submitting their required Approaching Stanford Forms and Vaden Health Forms, and completing required online education courses. They may also opt to take various placement tests/diagnostics, communicate with academic advisors, and apply for programs. You can look at the Important Dates and Deadlines (for frosh, or for transfers) for more information. Please remember that students cannot share any login/password information with you, as it would be a violation of University policy. You should not complete their Approaching Stanford Forms.

Finally, we hope that you will help your student enjoy their well-deserved summer break!

Where can we go shopping near Stanford?

Check out this list of shops, banks, and grocery stores near campus to plan for your shopping needs. Dorm rooms come with furniture, so please don't purchase additional furniture, but items such as plastic storage bins, hangers, and desk lamps can be useful.

For 2020-2021: There are a limited number of students who have been approved to move to campus for Autumn Quarter, given their special circumstances. Students who are approved to live on campus are encouraged to bring only the essentials with them because they will need to move out of their rooms at the end of the quarter. It is recommended that they only bring what they can carry, such as two suitcases and a backpack.

Should my student bring a computer?

Review Getting Started for Students on the Vice Provost for Teaching & Learning website to learn about computing at Stanford, resources, and recommendations for buying a computer. For 2020-21, because instruction will be conducted online, we encourage students to have their own laptop/computer, if possible. If your student is unable to afford a computer, please contact the Financial Aid Office.

Although all undergraduate residences have a computer cluster and Public Computing Spaces are located around campus, we are unsure if public health guidelines will allow them to be open in this coming year when students are able to return to campus.

What does my student need to bring to college? Do students bring mini-fridges and microwaves?

See Guidelines for Packing for a list of what students should and should not bring to Stanford. We also encourage you to review How to Be Cardinal Green: Student Sustainable Living Guide prior to packing for eco-friendly tips. We discourage mini-fridges, microwaves, and other items that use a great deal of energy. Every dorm has a communal kitchenette with a full refrigerator, stove/oven, and microwave for students to use; and there are late night dining options on campus.

For 2020-21: For those limited students approved to return for Autumn Quarter, we encourage them to pack light and only for the 10-week quarter, as campus does not provide storage. They should only bring what they can carry, such as two suitcases and a backpack. We do not recommend bringing any furniture, mini-fridges, or microwaves to your dorm room. Off-campus storage options are available through local vendors. 

What is my student’s mailing address? How do I ship boxes/packages to Stanford?

Every new student living on campus is assigned a P.O. Box at Stanford's Post Office. Students can view their P.O. Box assignments in Axess in early September.

Stanford accepts packages at our on-campus Post Office and at the Undergraduate Package Center in Tresidder Union, a central package receiving center on campus. (Mail/Packages addressed to residences will not be accepted.) See R&DE's Mail & Deliveries website for more information. 

Please note that Stanford will receive packages for students only after they have arrived and moved into their campus residence. Therefore, please do not send boxes before your student's scheduled move-in date, as they will not be accepted. And be sure that your student packs their essentials in the luggage they bring with them to check in (clothes, shoes, jacket, toiletries and towel, medications, essential bedding, etc.)

Mail and packages sent via USPS should be addressed as follows:

Student’s First & Last Name [e.g., Jane Stanford]
531 Lasuen Mall
P.O. Box [#####]
Stanford, CA 94309

All packages sent via other carriers such as FedEx, UPS, DHL,OnTrac, and online orders should be directed to the Undergraduate Package Center and addressed as follows:

Student First and Last Name - SUNet ID [e.g., Jane Stanford - jstanford]
459 Lagunita Drive
c/o Stanford Tresidder Union Package Center
Stanford, CA 94305

For these packages, your student’s SUNet ID will be used as a unique identifier for them. Once their package arrives, they will receive email notification for pick-up. The package center is located on the 1st floor of the Tresidder Union, inside the FedEx Office Business Center. Hours of service are Monday-Friday from 7:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

When are housing and roommate assignments sent?

Housing assignments will be announced in late August by email notification. For 2020-21: With the President's August 13 announcement that Stanford would be going fully online, only a select number of students have been approved to live on campus for Autumn Quarter, due to special circumstances. Students approved to do so will be notified of their assignment at the end of August with more information about move-in logistics.

If applicable, students will find out who their roommate is when they move to campus on Move-In Day, the first day of NSO. Unlike many other colleges and universities, Stanford does not give students the option of requesting a particular roommate in the first year, nor do we reveal roommate matches prior to move-in. This policy is rooted in the belief that the relationship roommates have with each other will be more positive and successful if it begins from the point of face-to-face interaction, rather than being shaped by any preconceived notions stemming from limited information or online communications. Stanford realizes there are practical consequences to this policy that may create temporary inconveniences for you, but year after year, experience tells us this is a winning way to handle roommate assignments.

Is there a way to learn more about specific residences and floor plans?

Once housing is assigned in late August, you can review information about specific residences and floor plans on the Student Housing website.

Is a meal plan required for students? What types of food do the dining halls provide? What about students with a food allergy?

Meal plans are required for all incoming first-year students. They are automatically enrolled in the 14 Meals/Week Meal Plan + Meal Plan Dollars, but can adjust to the 19 Meals/Week Meal Plan when they arrive, if desired.

Dining halls provide a variety of healthy and nutritious foods, accommodating students with vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free diets, and other diet restrictions. All prepared foods have descriptions of common allergens they may contain. Students with allergies or who require religious or medical food accommodations can speak with our nutritionist for resources and additional information. Please consult R&DE Student Dining for more details.

For 2020-21: Students will be assigned to eat at their residence dining hall and should not eat at other dining halls.

R&DE Stanford Diningʼs CleanDining program builds upon the already high standards of food safety and sanitation in the dining halls, utilizing industry best practices and enhanced cleaning protocols. The goal of R&DE Stanford Diningʼs CleanDining program is to provide students with reassurance of the safety of their dining experience and create a focus on enhanced cleanliness that will be visible to students. R&DE Stanford Diningʼs CleanDining program was created to consistently meet all of the evolving expectations during the COVID-19 pandemic. For further questions, feedback or information please contact

What is the process for paying tuition? Where can I find information about methods of payment?

All term charges for undergraduate students (tuition, housing, dining, health insurance, etc.) are due the month prior to the start of the quarter, unless otherwise specified. All other charges are billed and due monthly. Student’s monthly university bills are generated on or around the 20th of each month and due on the 15th of the following month. Their first University bill will be available on August 20 and payment for charges on this bill will be due by September 15. Detailed information is available on the Student Financial Services website, including how students can set up parents/guardians as Authorized Payers and Due Dates. Authorized Payers will be able to view and pay the bill.

The Prepayment Installment Plan (PIP) is a budgeting resource that offers undergraduate students the option to spread payments of large university fees (estimated by tuition, room and board) over three monthly installments per term (term fees remain due by the 15th of the month prior to the start of term). For 2020-21: the deadline to sign up in Axess for the IPP for Autumn Quarter has been extended to August 1 when the first payment is due. The university charges no finance, interest or enrollment fees for the PIP.

Your student will only be charged for Room and Board for the quarters they live on campus. They will not be charged for Room and Board for the quarter they are enrolled remotely.

What is the best way to submit a scholarship check made payable to Stanford?

Students should send scholarship checks to the Office of Financial Aid in Montag Hall. Financial Aid processes all scholarship checks made out to students and to Stanford. Be sure your student’s Stanford ID number is on the check so that it is applied to the correct account.

Where can I learn more about Vaden Health Center and Cardinal Care Health Insurance?

Stanford offers health services through the Vaden Health Center. These include medical services and a variety of counseling services. As part of their Entrance Health Requirements, students must have their health provider complete and sign the Stanford Immunization Form for Non-Medical Students.

Students must enroll in or waive Cardinal Care Health Insurance in Axess by September 15 (the date for international students is August 15). Note that enrollment is for the entire year from September 1 - August 31. More information can be found in the 2020-21 Student Health Matters catalog.

When is New Student Orientation (NSO)?

For 2020-21, New Student Orientation will be completely virtual and will take place Wednesday, September 9 - Sunday, September 13. More information regarding orientation scheduling and programing is forthcoming.

What is the programming for parents and families during NSO?

For 2020-21: Because we will need to take extra precautions this year to protect everyone’s safety, parents and families will not be able to enter the residences or dining facilities during move-in. This was a difficult decision as we know that moving onto campus for the first time is a very special moment for students and families. If you will be driving your student to campus, families will be allowed at vehicle drop-off sites near student residences. Exceptions will be made for students with registered accommodations. We encourage you to ask your student to call you once they've checked in to give you a virtual tour of their room and residence. 

There will not be any in-person programming for parents and families during NSO. If your student is approved to live on campus and you are traveling to campus with them, you should plan to leave campus as soon as possible in an effort to reduce the volume of people on campus at any one time. Regardless, we plan to provide a warm, virtual, welcome to our families. We hope to share additional information soon so that you can plan accordingly.

If my student is participating in a pre-orientation program (FLI-SO, ISO, SPOT, or SNIP) when should I come to campus to move them in?

Information and dates for pre-orientation programs can be found on the Approaching Stanford website

For 2020-21: SPOT and FLI-SO will not be held in 2020. ISO and SNIP will run virtual pre-orientation programs. There will not be any early arrival to campus for new students this year.

Where can parents and families stay around Stanford?

While we do not provide parents and families with any housing accommodations during NSO, there are many hotels in Palo Alto and the surrounding cities. We recommend booking a hotel room early before hotels fill up. The Visitor Information section of the Stanford website provides a thorough lodging guide as well as airport details, maps/directions, and other travel information.

Please be prepare to follow health and safety protocol of our campus if you will be accompanying your student to Stanford. Families and guests will not be permitted to enter the residences and will be asked to remain at designated vehicle drop-off sites.

Where can parents park on campus for NSO?

By August 31, Move-In Day information will be sent to you and your student via email, featuring links to a printable map. The map will help you identify the best route to your student’s residence to drop-off your student. 

For parking during the academic year, visit the Parking webpage for information about day permits, metered parking, and parking zones on campus.

When should I leave campus after my student moves in?

The University announced that families and guests will not be able to enter residential and dining facilities during move-in. We know that families provide critical support for our students, and that moving into campus is a very special moment. Unfortunately, we will need to take extra precautions this year to protect everyone's safety. Families will be allowed at vehicle drop-off sites near student residences. But then, we ask that families plan on departing campus right away. Exceptions will be made for students with registered accommodations. Unfortunately, given our need to reduce COVID transmission risks, we won't be able to offer non-campus programming for families on Move-In Day or throughout New Student Orientation. 

Can my student have a car on campus?

First-year students are not allowed to have a car on campus; this policy is outlined on Stanford Transportation's website. However, Stanford has many great options for alternative transportation. For more information review Stanford Transportation Resources.

Where can bikes be purchased?

Many students appreciate having a bicycle to navigate campus. Your student may bring a bicycle from home or buy one from one of Palo Alto’s many local bike vendors. The Campus Bike Shop, located in Tresidder Union, also rents, sells, and services bikes and is a convenient on-campus option. Read Bike Information and Resources for New Students, which discusses bike safety, services, and resources at Stanford.

For 2020-21: Bikes will not be necessary on campus, as most classes will be offered online. If your student would like to have a bike, but does not want to purchase one, consider renting a bike from the Campus Bike Shop or a local shop for the quarter.

How can my student get to the airport from campus?

A good place to start planning your trip is the Plan Your Visit webpage on the Visitor Information pages. There are several transportation options for getting to surrounding airports, including a number of private shuttle and ride share services. Caltrain also connects students to San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and San Jose Mineta International Airport (SJC).

How can I stay up to date as a Stanford parent/guardian?

Visit for helpful information for parents and families. The University will email Family Newsletters on a quarterly basis.

How can I contact the University with questions or concerns?

For non-emergencies: call or email the Stanford Parent & Family Help Line: (650) 725-0649 or This line is responded to during business hours, Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

For emergencies: call 9-1-1

When will my student enroll in Autumn Quarter courses?

For 2020-21, students will enroll in courses beginning on September 1. The course catalog will be published on on August 17, allowing time for students to browse the course offerings before enrolling. They must be registered for classes by the Preliminary Study List Deadline, 5:00 p.m. on Monday, September 14, 2020.

Where can I get proof of enrollment for my student?

Students can request enrollment verifications in Axess only once they have enrolled in courses. Because new students cannot enroll in Autumn Quarter courses until New Student Orientation (NSO), if you need verification for scholarship, tax, or insurance purposes, please inform the institution that Stanford first-year students will not be able to enroll in courses until orientation and thus, enrollment verifications will not be available until late September. Sometimes a copy of your student’s acceptance letter will suffice or institutions will provide an extension. If proof of enrollment is required, your student should send an email to with this request and we will provide a letter of explanation.

When are students on break from classes?

Stanford's Academic Calendar is the calendar for the entire academic year, including dates for breaks. It is best to wait to learn your student's schedule before booking flights. They generally learn that schedule at the beginning of classes each quarter, although it can change.

When is Family Weekend?

Visit the Family Weekend website for updated information. Details about the 2021 program will likely be announced in Autumn Quarter.

Is there a way to send a cake or treats to my student on their birthday or favorite holiday?

The Stanford Parents' Club offers a delivery service with cakes, balloons, and more delivered to your student’s dorm room. Order online at On-Campus Deliveries. This program will likely be temporarily on hold in Autumn 2020.