Welcome New Families!

New Student Services/Family Outreach is pleased to support you and your student through this important time of transition with the new Student and Family onboarding process, designed for early connection with your student’s experience and with Western. Through our offerings, you will learn how to navigate campus programs and student-support services as well as some key strategies to help your student understand how to best access and utilize them.

Cheerleaders on Old Main Lawn cheering before a crowd of students

New Student and Family Orientation

The New Student and Family Orientation website is open to explore with your student as you continue preparations for their first academic quarter. While many tasks on the New Student Orientation Checklist are for students to complete on their own, we encourage you to explore the resources highlighted on this page. For specific community-building activities and connections, visit the Community page.  

Students will have more opportunities to make new friends and become familiar with campus surroundings with the fun and festivities offered during Western Welcome Week that kicks off after Move-in Weekend

We’ll provide opportunities for you to re-connect with your student while developing a deeper sense of place and connection to Western and Bellingham during Fall Family Weekend

In the meantime, we invite you to use the checklist below to guide your onboarding experience as the parent or family member of a new student.

Tip: Take note of the First-Year Academic Programs and additional early arrival programs that are available to enhance your new student's social and academic experience at Western! Some of these programs may offer parent and family "orientation" that is specific to their programs.

New Family Checklist

1. Review the New Student Orientation Checklist

Review the New Student Orientation Checklist, taking note of the required and time-sensitive tasks that your student must complete.

Tip: Once your student sets up their Western Email Account, remind them to check it regularly! This is the primary way the university communicates important information. 

2. Review Highlighted Campus Resources and Family FAQs below

Review our Frequently Asked Questions and Highlighted Campus Resources in the blue boxes below to learn more about FERPA, gaining access to a student's account for billing purposes, health and wellness resources, and more.

Tip: Watch the Academic Advising Information for Families video (8.5 minutes), taking note of WWU's academic planning and success resources available to your student along with what to expect from their Advising & Registration session. 

3. Review Campus Safety FAQs

Review Campus Safety FAQs to learn about campus police, safety drills, and the services they provide. 

Tip: Explore the University Police website to learn about bike registration (bike theft is a problem at most universities and WWU is no exception!) as well as suggested safety tips & public safety escorts. Learn more about campus safety resources

4. Explore the Viking Resource Hub

Explore the Viking Resource Hub to locate campus resources, services and departments that are curated by function rather than by unfamiliar department names.

Tip: Watch a recorded New Viking Families On Board session to see a demonstration of this tool. The webinar portion of the video demonstrates how to locate Western services as well as how to navigate within their websites to dig deeper for specific programming and opportunities for support. 

Orientation is just the start! Stay connected throughout the year with family outreach office hours (by appointment), monthly family e-newsletters, an annual family weekend, and more. Explore additional ways to stay connected on our Parents and Families page.

Highlighted Campus Resources for Parents and Families of New Students

Enjoy quick access to time-sensitive, high priority information for supporting your student with planning and logistics, housing & dining, finances, academics, transportation & parking, and more! 

New Viking Families On Board

Watch a recorded New Viking Families On Board session hosted by our Family Outreach Manager. The two-part family orientation session includes a 15-minute webinar-style overview of how to use the Viking Resource Hub to explore Western services and resources online while the second part gives current students the chance to share their pro tips and answer questions submitted by parents and family. Check the video description for timestamped content as well as links to resources shared in session chats.

NEW INFO SESSIONS OFFERED: Financial Aid, Payments & Housing: Navigating a successful first year at WWU

Join the Financial Aid Department, Student Business Office (SBO), and University Residences (On-Campus Housing) for a virtual information session followed by an open Q&A period.

During this session you will learn about:
• Financial aid requirements and how to interpret your financial aid offer
• When, where, and how to pay your bill
• Financial responsibilities associated with housing

Information Sessions are scheduled for the following dates/times (PST):

  • August 16 at 6 p.m.
  • August 17 at 11 a.m.
  • September 7 at 6 p.m.

Watch Recorded Session from July 27  

Register today by visiting the Student Business Office website by clicking the button below. You 

Student Business Office

Student Transportation

We often hear the question, “Can students really get around Bellingham without a car?” The answer is YES! Extremely limited parking combined with the savings from not paying for parking and gas are persuasive reasons to look into alternative transportation options. Watch the Western on the Go! Video and checkout the available tools on the WWU Transportation website to assess your student’s transportation needs. 

Transportation Services

Disability Access Center

Learn more about providing support as a family member of a new college student through the Disability Access Center (DAC). Here you'll find a brief overview of the differences between K-12 and Higher Ed and why it’s important that your student begins the dialogue with this office instead of parents and family members. 

Visit the DAC FAQs and review those specifically for parents, guardians & family members. You may also find it helpful to read about our new DAC Director, or learn about resources available through the Disability Outreach Center.

Student Activities

Encourage your student to explore the Western Involvement Network (WIN) to connect with AS Clubs and Organizations, learn about campus events, and explore new interests. 

Learn More About WIN

Meal Plans & Dining Services

Residential meal plans are mandatory for students living in the residence halls on campus. Optional meal plans for students living off campus or in Birnam Wood are also available. Study up on your student's meal plan & dining options at WWU by visiting the Meal Plan 101 page. Explore the website to learn more about dining locations & menus, supporting special dietary needs, and more. 

Student Housing

On Campus Housing: 

Still looking for dorm essentials? Check out what residence hall essentials are available for free through the Resident Checkout Program. Learn more about residence hall composting, sustainability education & engagement on the Housing Sustainability page.

For more information about Western’s On-Campus Housing, visit the University Residences website. Checkout available timelinesmove-in information, housing during holiday breaks, and how to send mail

Please note: University Residences will be hosting:

  • a welcome dinner for BIPOC students and families on Sept. 15 from 5-6:30 p.m. in the Viking Commons. 


Off Campus Housing

Is your student looking for a place off campus to call home? Try these tools for locating available rental properties, finding roommates and understanding tenant rights and responsibilities. Visit Off Campus Living to learn more. 

Coffee, Tea, & Family: NSSFO Family Outreach Office Hours logo

Coffee, Tea and Family

Family Outreach Office Hours are available to parents/families of new and current students.

Is your student new to Western this quarter? Do you have questions about how to navigate the New Student and Family Orientation website? Need a crash course in accessing resources and services available to students? Want to be ready with helpful information and advice to support your student’s success at Western? 

If your answer is yes to any one or maybe all of these questions, then grab a cup of coffee or tea and meet with our Family Outreach Manager!  

Book a Meeting Now

Frequently Asked Questions

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) is a federal law that pertains to the release of and access to student educational records. 

What this means to parents and families is that WWU staff and faculty cannot discuss some aspects of your student's education with you without permission from your student. While FERPA is in place to protect your student, we understand that this is a big change and may take some time to get used to. Offices and departments on campus are happy to talk with you about policies and procedures, even if they cannot discuss your student's specific situation.

For information about how FERPA impacts your access to your student's educational records, please see "How can I access my student’s account to pay tuition or check their balance?" and "Can I gain access to my student's grades?" below.

Learn More About FERPA

Your student’s Western Account is part of their educational records, which is protected under FERPA (See "What is FERPA, and how does it impact parent and family access to student records?"). As a result, your student will need to grant you access to their Western Account Online for tuition and billing purposes. 

Students must complete the Release of Financial Information e–sign form to allow the Student Business Office (SBO) to speak with family about their Western Account. 

Students must send a Payer Invitation through their Western Account Portal to allow parents or other payers to view their balance and make payments. Watch the Send a Payer Invitation video and review Step-by-Step instructions on the SBO's How To page to learn more.

Your student’s grades are part of their educational record, which is protected under FERPA (see "What is FERPA, and how does it impact parent and family access to student records?").  Students have access to their own educational records such as grades and class schedules via Web4U. There is no portal for parent or family access to student grades. We encourage you to discuss a strategy with your student for how and when they will share their grades with you.  

Visit the WWU Coronavirus page for the latest updates on campus responses, VAX FAQs, requirements, on-campus testing, campus cancellations and closures, and more. 

The Academic Advising Center has recorded an overview video (8.5 minutes) to help parents and families understand how academic advising is structured, how students can prepare for their Advising & Registration session, ways to explore majors, graduation requirements, and more.  

Providing students and employees the opportunity to indicate their pronouns and gender identity is part of fostering a respectful and inclusive university community. Learn more about personal pronouns and gender identity through Western LGBTQ+  and Diversity services and programs.

Visit the Technology and Support page of the Viking Resource Hub to learn about available laptops, computer labs, printers, cameras and digital recording equipment as well as available support and training. From the tech & support list, expand the Residence Hall Technology section for specifics about available technology and support in the res halls (dorms). You may also find it helpful to see the Academic Technology and User Services (ATUS) checklist for new students.  

 WWU’s Counseling and Wellness Center offers Transition Tips for parents and families that provide helpful pointers on this important topic! Find additional resources from the Counseling and Wellness Center on our Parents and Families page.

The Counseling and Wellness Center offers multiple pathways for students to thrive at Western and beyond, from therapy groups and individual counseling services to drop-in wellness outreach programs to self-care resources available on our website. 

Tip: If you are worried that your student will have trouble making connections with others due to so much time spent in remote learning environments or for other reasons, encourage your student to explore methods of building resiliency offered through these effective wellness practices

Nothing!  Eligible students who have paid the mandatory, quarterly Counseling, Health and Wellness fee have unlimited access to the Student Health Center, without charge for nearly all office visits. Visit the Student Health Center website for more information about what SHC services are charged, health insurance plans, hours of operation, and more. See WWU Student Health Insurance Plan for enrollment deadlines, benefits, and eligibility.

In the event of a crisis at Western, the university will use every communication tool at its disposal to share information with the campus community as quickly as possible: Western Home Page, The Western Safety and Emergency Information Page and if you sign up for Western Alerts, you will receive an email or text message notification. 

Encourage your student to update their Emergency Contacts via Web4U. The University will only reach out to the individuals on the list in the event of an emergency.