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How to Avoid Common Legal Pitfalls When Heading Back to School

Rocket Lawyer™ Educates College Students With Legal 101

SAN FRANCISCO (August 25, 2010) -- From signing their first lease, to paying for student loans and utilities, college students are faced with new challenges when they step on campus. Rocket Lawyer™, the easiest way to make it legal, offers tips to help college students navigate new legal questions that arise as they head back to school.

"Now more than ever, it's important that young adults understand their new legal obligations and responsibilities when they are on their own for the first time," said Charley Moore, founder and chairman of Rocket Lawyer. "Rocket Lawyer offers hundreds of online legal forms that cover a range of personal legal needs to help parents, college students and consumers with all of their legal needs."

Rocket Lawyer's top five tips for "acing" Legal 101, include:

  1. Lease liability: For many young people, college is the first time they sign a rental agreement. Whether you're on the lease alone or signing with roommates -- if your name is on it, you are responsible for the monthly payment. If one of your roommates falls short, you are still responsible for picking up the slack. That's why it's especially important to read the document carefully before you sign and become legally liable. Some important items to understand in your lease include the amount of rent and when it's due, the amount of the security deposit, penalties for late payment of rent, pet policies and applicable fees, and whether the landlord or the tenant is responsible for utility payments. To learn more about the items that are included in a lease, check out Rocket Lawyer's Apartment Lease for a sample. Visit the Rocket Lawyer Landlord/Tenant Issues help articles for more tips on renting.

  2. Understand your utilities: Make sure you have a clear picture of what you and your roommates can afford before signing up for all of the movie channels. Gas, electric, phone and cable bills are listed under one name, even if there are several people splitting the cost. If you're the one on the agreement, you are responsible for payment every month. Negative records such as late payments and collection accounts can remain on credit reports for seven years, which can affect you long after graduation.

  3. Be careful of credit cards: According to a 2009 study by Sallie Mae, 84 percent of the student population overall have credit cards. While it can be tempting to sign up for a credit card to get an enticing promotional item, it's critical that young people take the time to read and understand the legal commitment they are entering into with the credit card company. Read the interest rate charges and payment agreement carefully. It is often confusing to get through the lengthy document, so ask someone you trust or visit to get advice before signing. Check out Rocket Lawyer's help articles about Credit Monitoring for more help.

  4. Save for student loans: According to recent figures from the Federal Reserve, consumers now owe more on their student loans than their credit cards. Students and parents should always take extra time to understand loan commitments before entering into the agreement. Understand how you are allowed to spend the loan money, the interest rates, the length of the term, and the repayment options (including how long you will need to pay off the debt and the amount of the monthly repayments). It's also smart to look for a loan that you can defer in cases of unemployment, or if you decide to continue your education beyond your undergraduate degree. Not all loans are the same, so know what you're signing. It's a commitment you and your parents may be paying off for many years to come.

  5. Before you borrow from family or friends: Many students today may be borrowing money from a loved one or friend in order to pay for student loans, housing, books, etc. Before accepting the offer, understand the terms of the loan. You need to know when and how you are expected to pay the money back and always put it in writing. Use Rocket Lawyer to help you draft a Promissory Note, so that the terms are clear and accepted by both parties. Documenting the loan can help you avoid a disagreement later on, or something much worse -- like a court battle.

With a little knowledge and the online legal tools at Rocket Lawyer, college students can ace Legal 101.It's smart to create legal contracts online -- since you can share and collaborate with parents, friends or a lawyer -- just as easily as using social networking sites. Documents are always safe and secure. A great place to start is the Rocket Lawyer Easy Legal Check-up.

For more information and advice, visit the Rocket Lawyer blogs, Legally Easy and Rocket Lawyer Press

About Rocket Lawyer
Rocket Lawyer™ ( is the easiest way to make it legal™. Whether someone wants to create and edit their own legal documents online, share legal documents with others, or work with any of the thousands of attorneys in the Rocket Lawyer network, Rocket Lawyer makes it simple and affordable. Rocket Lawyer also offers customizable client matching and marketing solutions for attorneys. As the best destination for legal services, more than 10 million individuals, small businesses and non-profit organizations visited Rocket Lawyer in the last year to address their legal needs. Rocket Lawyer investors and partners include LexisNexis, Investor Growth Capital and Google. To learn more about Rocket Lawyer Incorporated, visit the Rocket Lawyer About Us page and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Contact Information
Sasha Volkov
Marketing Manager

Aimee Eichelberger
for Rocket Lawyer PR
415-963-4174 ext. 7