Caring for Underage Students at Seattle Central

Seattle Central welcomes mature, independent and self-reliant students 16 or 17 years of age to enroll for classes. While attending Seattle Central, students will be in an adult environment with no special supervision. Most students at Seattle Central are 18 or older (the median age is 27).

Seattle Central understands that enrolling in college can be a challenging experience, and may not be a good fit for all underage applicants. Parents of underage students should consider carefully if their child is prepared to live independently from the family and face the academic rigor of college classes. Students who may not be ready can always defer their admission until they are 18 years old.

Behavior On Campus

Underage students are responsible for their own actions and activities outside of the classroom. All students are expected to act maturely, civilly, and in accordance with the Student Conduct Code and any special requirements specified for students in The Studios on Broadway. Seattle Central’s Security Office provides 24/7 service to the campus to prevent crime and maintain a safe study environment for students of all ages.

Designating a Responsible Adult

Seattle Central recommends that underage students have a responsible adult living in the United States who can look after their welfare. A responsible adult can provide support to underage students until they are 18 and considered a legal adult.

Finding an adult or guardian to care for an underage students is the responsibility of the student’s parents. Seattle Central cannot act as a responsible adult for students under the age of 18, nor is it able to recruit a person to serve in this role.

Some parents may wish to have a legal guardian in the United States caring for their child. Designating a legal guardian is a legal procedure that involves filing of paperwork with the Washington State court system. Guardianship is not a simple process. More information can be found here (navigate to the heading “Minor Guardianship Forms”).

Host families recruited by one of the agencies cannot carry the role of a responsible adult either, but they can provide a very stable living environment for underage students (please see our housing webpage for further details).

Although Seattle Central and its staff cannot act as a legal guardian for underage students, parents may choose to give Seattle Central staff the authority to make decisions for an underage student in the case of a medical emergency. Parents may do so using the Emergency Medical Authorization Form. Emergency situations include cases of serious injury or where a student’s life may be in danger. They do not include non-emergency illnesses or medical procedures, such as a cold or mild illness. The form is only for underage students, not those who are 18 years of age or older.


Seattle Central does not make housing decisions or arrangements for students, nor does it monitor individual living arrangements for students regardless of age, except for reporting the addresses of F / M visa holders to the Department of Homeland Security as required by law.

Underage students (16 or 17 years old) are not considered legal adults in the U.S., and so may have difficulty signing apartment leases or making housing arrangements on their own. Parents and guardians are legally responsible for these students, their actions, and living arrangements, regardless of whether the parents or guardians reside in the U.S. or another country. Therefore, Seattle Central College recommends that students under the age of 18 live with a host family or family relative. Parents are expected to keep close contact with their children or designate a responsible adult in the U.S. who can take responsibility for their living situation.


Banks in the United States have different policies on opening bank accounts for individuals under the age of 18. Many require that 16 or 17 year olds have an adult who can co-sign on a bank account before they are willing to open an account in a minor’s name. Others offer flexibility in allowing 16 or 17 year old students to have bank accounts.

At Seattle Central, we have found that most banks will not open a checking account for a student who is 16 years of age without an adult co-signer. Some branches of CHASE Bank will open a savings account for 16-year old students without a co-signer, with some restrictions on the withdrawal of funds. Other banks may have similar policies for 16-year old students. CHASE Bank will open a checking account for college students who are 17 year’s old without a co-signer.

Since banking can be challenging for underage students, Seattle Central recommends the following:

- Parents who choose to accompany their underage child to the United States should find time to open a bank account with them and co-sign on the account. Both the parent and student’s name will be on the account, which will make it easier for the student to obtain funds when she or he needs them.

- Parents should see what options there might be for international banks to open an account in the student’s home country that could be accessed in the United States. Many international banks have a presence in the United States (e.g., Citibank, HSBC,etc.).

- If 16 or 17-year old students plan to open an account on their own in the United States, they may need to check with different branches of different banks to find one who will assist them with an account. Although some branches of CHASE Bank have shown willingness to open an account for 16 and 17 year-old students, policies seem to vary from branch to branch.

Note on co-signing for an account: While some host families might be willing to co-sign on a student’s bank account, they have no obligation to take this role. Parents should also consider whether it is appropriate to have a host family co-signed on an account, where they would have equal access to a student’s funds. Neither Seattle Central College nor its employees can act as a co-signer on a student bank account.