FAQs for Parents and Families of New Students

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 parents often ask throughout the summer and early fall:

Before You Arrive

Housing & Dining

Financial & Medical




Student Academics

Looking Ahead

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

The Approaching Stanford Handbook sent to your student in May/June 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 @stanford.edu email) and completing required actions this summer, including submitting their required Approaching Stanford Forms and Vaden Health Forms, and completing online required courses in Alcohol Education and Sexual & Relationship Violence, Healthy Relationships, and Consent Education. 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, laundry baskets, and desk lamps are useful.

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. While most students at Stanford have their own computers, you certainly don't need one, and some buy after they've arrived. Check out the Public Computing Spaces available around campus as well as the Residential Computer Spaces available in every residence on 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.

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

Every new student 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 Post Office and at the FedEx Office on campus in Tresidder Union, a central package receiving center on campus. (Mail/Packages addressed to residences will not be accepted.) See Shipping Your Belongings 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 of Wednesday, September 18, 2019, 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 Fed Ex Office 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 early-August by email notification. Students will find out who their roommate is when they move to campus on September 18, which is 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 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.

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 Installment Payment Plan (IPP) 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). The deadline to sign up in Axess for the IPP for Autumn Quarter is July 15 when the first payment is due. The university charges no finance, interest or enrollment fees for the IPP.

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

Student 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.

When is New Student Orientation (NSO)?

New Student Orientation begins on Wednesday, September 18, and runs through Sunday, September 22. It is required for all new undergraduate students and they must be checked in at their residence by 5:00 p.m. on September 18.

What is the programming for parents and families during NSO?

Parents and families are welcome to participate in NSO programs on Wednesday, September 18. After helping your student move in and get settled in the morning, a variety of open houses, information sessions, and activities are scheduled throughout the afternoon. Highlights include the Family Welcome Center, Parent-to-Parent Advice for Frosh Parents, the 129th Opening Convocation led by President Marc Tessier-Lavigne (4:00 p.m. in the Main Quad), and the Dinner with the Provost (6:45 p.m. in the Arrillaga Center for Sports & Recreation). Visit the NSO Events webpage for more information; a detailed schedule of all parent and family events will be available in September.

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. Programs will conclude the morning of Move-In Day, at which time students will head to their residences to check into their new homes. Parents/guardians and families should plan to meet their students at their residences to help them move in.

Where can parents and families stay when we arrive for Move-In?

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.

Where can parents park on campus for NSO?

On August 30, Move-In Day information will be sent to your student via email, featuring links to a printable map and the free NSO parking pass. The map will help you identify the best route to your student’s residence to unload your student’s belongings. After unloading, you should park your car in the Galvez Lot (Campus Drive & Galvez Street), the designated free parking lot for NSO, for the remainder of the day.

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?

On Move-In Day (Wednesday, September 18), parent and family programming ends with the Dinner with the Provost. Beginning Thursday (September 19), students will have a full schedule of events throughout the rest of NSO. You should not make plans to see their students or to take them off campus the remainder of the week. We recommend that you only stay to Wednesday evening so that students have the opportunity to engage fully with their peers during NSO.

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’s Parking & Transportation Services website. However, Stanford has many great options for alternative transportation. For more information review Parking & 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 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.

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 services and discounted Super Shuttle rides. 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 parents.stanford.edu for helpful information for parents and guardians. The University will email Parent & Guardian 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 mykidis@stanford.edu. 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?

While students will be able to browse the course catalog for 2019-20 beginning August 1, they will not be able to enroll in classes until they arrive for New Student Orientation (NSO) in September. Professional Academic Advisors from the Office of Academic Advising will contact your student by email in mid-August to begin to the advising conversation. After meeting their Academic Advising Director and attending academic planning sessions during NSO, students will be able to enroll in courses. They must be registered for classes by the Preliminary Study List Deadline, 5:00 p.m. on Monday, September 23, 2019.

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 September 19 and thus, enrollment verifications will not be available until after that date. 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 approaching@stanford.edu with this request and we will provide a letter of explanation.

When are students on break from classes?

Students have several breaks over the course of the academic year. These include Thanksgiving Recess, Winter Break, and Spring Break. Stanford's Academic Calendar is the calendar for the entire academic year, including dates for breaks. Students may remain in their dorms for all vacation periods except during Winter Break (December 14, 2019 - January 4, 2020) when dorms close. It is best to wait to learn your student's schedule for finals before booking flights. They generally learn that schedule at the beginning of classes each quarter, although it can change.

When is Family Weekend?

Family Weekend is Friday-Saturday, February 28-29, 2020. We hope you will join us on campus! You will receive an invitation to this popular event in the fall. Visit the Family Weekend website once the date nears for more information and to register.

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

The Stanford Parent’s Club offers a delivery service with cakes, balloons, and more delivered to your student’s dorm room. Order online at On-Campus Deliveries.