All Posts By

John Fees

Transition Uncategorized

Three College Surprises to Avoid

July 11, 2019

Given the amount of work I have done with colleges and universities over the past twenty years, I am often asked by parents for advice. Most recently, parents I speak with are particularly concerned about the cost of college and campus safety. Here are a few of the most common questions that I receive and my response to them:

  1. Do You Have a FERPA Consent? FERPA (The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974) was designed to protect the privacy of educational records and to establish the rights of students to inspect and review their educational records. Even if you support your student financially, the college or university will not have any obligation to share student information with you unless you have the consent of your student. College Parents of America recommends that all families discuss this topic and have a plan for dealing with student information.
  2. Does Your School Provide 100% Refunds? If your student is forced to withdraw from school due to an unexpected illness or injury, there’s a high possibility that your university will not provide a refund of the tuition that you paid that semester. In this case, you could lose thousands of dollars in non-refundable tuition and fees. GradGuard Tuition Insurance can help refund those costs that your university is not reimbursing you. Note that different plans are offered in different states and vary for price and coverage, but purchasing a plan is smart to consider nonetheless. Be sure you know your school’s refund policy and remember that tuition insurance must be purchased prior to the start of classes for your chosen term.
  3. Is Campus Crime a Bigger Deal Than Reported? Colleges and universities are required to disclose annual campus crime and safety statistics through the Clery Report. Note that your university probably doesn’t reimburse students for stolen or damaged property. Not to mention if your student causes damage to their residence hall; in that instance, you will likely get stuck with a bill for the damage at the end of the year. With all this in mind, you will want to consider GradGuard College Renters Insurance. Evaluate the benefits of a low-deducible insurance policy, with worldwide personal property coverage, and specifically designed for students all for an average of $15 a month; there should be no argument!

Bottom line; no one likes to be surprised.

It’s true that some families are able to replace stolen property or pay for an extra semester of college if their student is forced to withdraw for medical reasons, but why would you want to? Especially if this is your students first year at college, you will seriously want to consider both tuition and renters insurance from GradGuard.

The GradGuard team is focused on our mission to help protect the investment in higher education that college families make. Over the years we have developed some keen insights into the risks facing college students.

We have worked on many products to help colleges protect their students from risks that may disrupt their education. College is a great investment, but it’s worth remembering that only 19% of 4-year bachelor degree students graduate in 4 years. Name another large investment/purchase that has such an uncertain outcome. When it comes down to it, don’t be surprised if an unexpected event delays your student’s graduation and be prepared in case it does. GradGuard has your back and wants to help when we can. Visit our website today for more information.

Student Life Uncategorized

Don’t Expect Your Homeowners Insurance or University to Replace a Stolen Computer or Backpack

March 7, 2019

As nearly 3 million new college students and their families prepare to start college this year, now is an excellent time for parents and students to examine important financial issues that can impact the entire family.

insurance-chart

Students living independently for the first time may mistakenly believe that their parents’ homeowners insurance will protect them.   There may be coverage for students who live on campus but in many cases, homeowners insurance contains high deductibles or eligibility requirements that may exclude certain claims, ultimately making it insufficient or inadequate for college students and their families.

Rental housing expert, Ben Hoglund, CPM, believes that it is incumbent upon student housing providers to educate their residents on the importance of adequate renters insurance protection. “They aren’t going to learn that in class,” proclaimed Hoglund.

Hoglund referenced a survey he conducted titled “Campus Housing Risk Mitigation Study” in which he researched the types, causes and monetary impact of property damage occurring on college campuses across the United States. The study also addressed student and housing provider awareness of available insurance products to mitigate these risks.

The findings show that:

  • 33% of respondents indicated that it is not their policy to require reimbursement for resident-caused fire or property damage in excess of $5,000.
  • Campus policies on required property insurance vary, with many schools having no requirement with regard to renters insurance.
  • 24% of respondents were not aware that some renters insurance products do not include both personal property and liability protections.
  • A majority of respondents estimated that less than 60% of their student residents are aware that they can be held financially responsible for damage to university property for which they are at fault. Vandalism, bicycle theft, and electronics theft are the most reported personal property losses by campus residents.

Due to higher insurance deductibles and low collection rates on resident damages, private sector housing providers have become proactive in their efforts to mitigate property financial losses caused by resident carelessness and negligence.

GradGuard offers renters insurance that covers personal property loss in the case of fire, certain natural disasters, theft, and vandalism, and provides personal liability protection for bodily injuries to another person or for damages to another person’s property if an incident occurs within the rented residence or elsewhere.  Check your policy for complete details and limitations, but in all cases get protected.

Career Uncategorized

Why Renters Insurance is A Smart Decision for College Students

August 19, 2018

College students are smart to consider protecting themselves with renters insurance.  In fact, a majority of state insurance commissioners recommend college students consider renters insurance.

GradGuard’s renters insurance can replace stolen or damaged student property when colleges may not.  With an average of 24,254 annual burglaries reported on college campuses and 2,129 annual fires reported in on-campus student housing, don’t go to college without GradGuard.

“While property crimes like burglary and campus fires are an ongoing problem on many college campuses, the good news is that there is a renters insurance policy that is designed just for college students,” said John Fees, co-founder of GradGuard, an authority on protecting the investment of college students and their families and a leading provider of renters insurance to schools nationwide.

With so much money at stake, Fees suggests that college parents make-a-plan in case your student is a victim of theft, their property is damaged by a fire or water damage or if they are found responsible for damages they may cause. As a result, college students and their families are smart to consider purchasing renters insurance before the start of school.

The Top 3 Reasons Renters Insurance is a Smart Decision for College Students:
  1. If you can’t afford to replace your backpack, bicycle or computer.– Renters insurance can replace your stolen or damaged property.  Renters insurance can cover those costs and help you get back to classes, without the added stress of a financial loss.
  2. If your school does not replace stolen or damaged property? – In a 2017 survey of student housing leaders, 98% of schools report that they do not replace stolen or damaged student property. Be sure to check with your school to see what their policy is and how much money is at risk.
  3. If you can’t afford to pay for damages you cause? True renters insurance includes personal liability protection and can help pay for unintentional damages when a student cannot.

According to Bob Soza, President of College Parents of America, “not all renters insurance programs are the same. We recommend GradGuard’s college renters insurance plan because it includes an exclusive student endorsement that provides affordable coverage that features a low-deductible, worldwide property coverage and no credit check.”

Fees continued, “college students and their parents are often caught unprepared and these unexpected incidents can also disrupt a students’ education.  Fortunately, they do not also need to be unprotected, for about $.50 cents a day, students can secure protection against financial losses making renters insurance a must have consideration for college families.”

Safety Uncategorized

The Case for Tuition Insurance

August 17, 2018

The most gratifying experience as a founder of a business is to hear directly from customers who benefit from a product you have helped to create. Indeed, as our GradGuard tuition insurance customer says in this brief testimonial video and statement.

“Tuition Insurance was such a lifesaver. It should be an option on every college and university website.” – Mindy D., parent of a college student daughter who used GradGuard’s tuition insurance from Allianz.

Bill Suneson and I co-founded GradGuard 10 years ago with the mission to help protect the investment students and families make in higher education. Thanks to GradGuard’s collaboration with Allianz Global Assistance – it is now easier than ever before for college students and their families to receive valuable protection for the investment they make in higher education.

If you have a student in college, you need to be sure you know what the refund policy is and ask the school if they provide tuition insurance. Though today only about 300 colleges and universities offer tuition insurance, most school leaders surveyed agree that it should be as convenient for families to protect a $30,000 or more investment in college as it is for consumers to protect a $300 vacation with travel insurance.

For good reason, according to the College Board’s 2019 Trends in College Pricing – the average published prices in 2019-20 including room and board are $38,330 for public institutions and $46,870 for private non-profit institutions.

According to the 2018 Allianz Tuition Insurance College Confidence Index, parents are growing more concerned about their child’s ability to finish college without needing to withdraw, though students’ level of confidence in finishing held steady. However, both still see significant financial implications of an early college withdrawal, estimating a loss of about $10,000. What is equally concerning is that the 2018 Index indicates 73% of parents are unaware of the refund policy of their college or university.

With so much money at stake, it is smart for college families to make a plan in case their student is forced to withdraw from school due to a bad bout of mono, mental illness or injury. The Fall 2019 study by the American College Health Association, demonstrates the impact of student health issues on academics. Below is a partial list of the conditions that students report impact their academic performance, defined as: received a lower grade on an exam, or an important project; received a lower grade in the course; received an incomplete or dropped the course; or experienced a significant disruption in thesis, dissertation, research, or practicum work;

• Depression: 23 %
• Cold/Flu/Sore throat: 16 %
• Death of a friend or family member: 9 %
• Bronchitis/Strep throat: 2.3 %
• Chronic health problem or serious illness: 22.8 %
• Alcohol use: 2.2 %
• Injury: 2.7 %
• Drug use: 1.7 %

This is where tuition insurance can be particularly valuable to a family or student that finds one of these conditions to be serious enough to force them to withdraw from college. Though it may seem a bit like an advertisement, here are some conclusions for why tuition insurance is a smart decision.

  1. If you can’t afford to lose the investment you are making in your semester of school – Tuition insurance can provide up to 100% refund for your expenses if a student gets sick, injured or is forced to leave school for a covered reason. Tuition insurance can cover those costs and help you get back on your feet in the event of a withdrawal, without the added stress of a financial loss.
  2. If your school does not provide a 100% refund – Do you know what your school’s refund policy is? A majority of school refund policies do not extend beyond the fifth week of the semester, and many don’t refund the full cost of tuition after the start of classes. Be sure to check with your school to see what their policy is and how much money is at risk.
  3. If you have additional academic expenses – Even if the school provides a 100% refund for tuition, most schools do not refund academic fees or student housing. Many tuition insurance plans provide coverage for not only tuition but also for expenses related to academic fees and student housing.

Tuition insurance is available through GradGuard and more than a hundred school-specific programs. Remember, tuition insurance must be purchased prior to the start of school and, like all insurance plans, be sure to check the specific terms, conditions, and exclusions of your policy.

This article was updated in July 2020

Safety Uncategorized

Testimonial – “Tuition Insurance Was Such a Lifesaver”

July 20, 2018

The best way to understand the value of GradGuard’s Tuition Insurance to schools and college families is to hear from a customer who enrolled in the program. Indeed, as our customer says:

“Tuition Insurance was such a lifesaver. It should be an option on every college and university website,” – Mindy D., parent of a college student daughter who used Allianz tuition insurance.

Watch below to hear her explain how she considered protecting her daughter and how tuition insurance enabled her to avoid a large financial loss when she became ill during the semester.

Thanks to GradGuard’s collaboration with Allianz Global Assistance – it is now easier than ever before for college students and their families to receive valuable protection for the investment they make in higher education.

If your school does not provide 100% refunds, it is useful for parents to ask the school to do so.  Most school leaders surveyed agreed that it should be as convenient for families to protect a $30,000 or more investment in college as it is for consumers to protect a $300 vacation with travel insurance.

We are thankful that we worked closely with the school where Mindy’s daughter was enrolled.  As a college parent, she expresses clearly the value of tuition insurance and the peace of mind it provided to her and her family as they cared for the well-being of her child.

Student Life Uncategorized

Five Reasons Tuition Insurance is a Smart Decision

July 15, 2017

For many college families, the expense of higher education is one of the largest investments they will make. In fact, according to the College Board’s 2016 Trends in College Pricing – the average published in‐state tuition and fee and room and board charges for 2016-17 are $20,090 and for out of state students, total charges are $35,370. The average published total charges at private nonprofit four-year institutions are $45,370.

With so much money at stake, it is smart for college families to make a plan in case your student is forced to withdraw from school due to a bad bout of mono, illness or injury.  Supporting a college student through an unexpected event can be stressful and it is made worse if parents are not aware of the college refund policy. A 2016 survey by College Parents of America indicates 71% of parents do not recall being informed of the university refund policy and 67% of parents surveyed indicated that they have no idea how the school would handle a refund if their student was unable to complete the term.

The Top 5 Reasons Tuition Insurance is a Smart Decision:

1. If you can’t afford to lose the investment you are making in your semester of school – Tuition insurance can provide up to 100% refund for your expenses if a student gets sick, injured or is forced to leave school for other covered reasons. Tuition insurance can cover those costs and help you get back on your feet in the event of a withdrawal, without the added stress of a financial loss.

2. If your school does not provide 100% refund  – Do you know what your school’s refund policy is?  A majority of school refund policies do not extend beyond the fifth week of the semester, and many don’t refund the full cost of tuition after the start of classes. Be sure to check with your school to see what their policy is and how much money is at risk.

In fact, in a 2015 national survey by HigherEdStudy of college & university bursars & health administrators, only 23% of schools reported providing 100% refunds. According to the survey, most schools only refund a portion of tuition for qualified withdrawals through the fifth week of classes and virtually no school provides a refund for the academic fees.

3. Not every student graduates. According to a 2015 National Student Clearinghouse: the overall national six-year completion rate for the fall 2009 cohort was 52.9 percent.   There are many factors that may disrupt a student’s education.  Tuition insurance is not drop-out insurance, but it can help your student and family to avoid a financial loss if a student is forced to withdraw due to a serious illness, accident or injury.

4. If you have more than $2,500 of academic expenses – Even if the school provides a 100% refund for tuition, most schools do not refund academic fees or student housing.  Many tuition insurance plans provide coverage for not only tuition but also for expenses related to academic fees and student housing.

5.  Student health and well-being can force a student to withdraw from classes. The American College Health Association National College Health Assessment reports that student health incidents such as illnesses, accidents, and injuries happen frequently, even to young and healthy college students.  It is important to note that ordinary student health problems such as mononucleosis, chronic health conditions or injuries also may force a student to withdraw from classes and cost a student and their family thousands of dollars.

The Investment in College & Your Student Deserve Protection:

Starting at $33.75 for $2,500 of coverage per term, tuition insurance is an affordable way to protect your investment. A good starting point is GradGuard’s school search tool to see what tuition insurance program may be available to your student.

Remember, tuition insurance must be purchased prior to the start of school and, like all insurance plans, be sure to check the specific terms, conditions, and exclusions of your policy.

Health Uncategorized

Why Renters Insurance is A Smart Decision for College Students

July 12, 2017

College students are smart to consider protecting themselves with renters insurance.  In fact, a majority of state insurance commissioners recommend college students consider renters insurance.

According to the 2015 Clery Act reports on campus crime, colleges and universities reported 13,754 burglaries and robberies. During the same year, campuses reported 1,926 fires within on-campus student housing.

“While property crimes like burglary and campus fires are an ongoing problem on many college campuses, the good news is that there is a renters insurance policy that is designed just for college students,” said John Fees, co-founder of GradGuard, an authority on protecting the investment of college students and their families and a leading provider of renters insurance to schools nationwide.

With so much money at stake, Fees suggests that college parents make-a-plan in case your student is a victim of theft, their property is damaged by a fire or water damage or if they are found responsible for damages they may cause. As a result, college students and their families are smart to consider purchasing renters insurance before the start of school.

The Top 3 Reasons Renters Insurance is a Smart Decision for College Students:

  1. If you can’t afford to replace your backpack, bicycle or computer.– Renters insurance can replace your stolen or damaged property.  Renters insurance can cover those costs and help you get back to classes, without the added stress of a financial loss.
  2. If your school does not replace stolen or damaged property? – In a 2017 survey of student housing leaders, 98% of schools report that they do not replace stolen or damaged student property. Be sure to check with your school to see what their policy is and how much money is at risk.
  3. If you can’t afford to pay for damages you cause? True renters insurance includes personal liability protection and can help pay for unintentional damages when a student cannot.

According to Bob Soza, President of College Parents of America, “not all renters insurance programs are the same. We recommend GradGuard’s college renters insurance plan because it includes an exclusive student endorsement that provides affordable coverage that features a low-deductible, worldwide property coverage and no credit check.”

Fees continued, “college students and their parents are often caught unprepared and these unexpected incidents can also disrupt a students’ education.  Fortunately, they do not also need to be unprotected, for about $.50 cents a day, students can secure protection against financial losses making renters insurance a must have consideration for college families.”

Health Uncategorized

New Search Tool Makes It Easy to Find College Student Insurance

June 28, 2017

Paying for college can be a challenge but thanks to a new innovative college search tool, GradGuard provides a convenient gateway to the relevant protection college students need.

The average published in‐state tuition and fee and room and board charges for 2016-17 are $20,090 and for out of state students, total charges are $35,370. The average published total charges at private nonprofit four-year institutions are $45,370, according to the College Board’s 2016 Trends in College Pricing. In total, more than 20 million students and their families invest an estimated $500 billion annually in tuition, academic fees, student housing, and related expenses.

In fact, for many college families, the expense of higher education is one of the largest investments they will make. “With so much money at stake, GradGuard’s new search tool makes it easy for families to find the insurance protection they need to protect their college student”, said Bob Soza, Chairman of College Parents of America.

The GradGuard search tool provides an easy way for families to find and purchase renters and tuition insurance programs designed just for their college or university. According to John Fees, co-founder of GradGuard all “when you consider the facts, it is smart for college families to consider how to protect their student and the investment they are making in higher education”.

The Need for College Renters Insurance
College students are smart to consider protecting themselves with renters insurance. According to reports from the 2015 Clery Act, colleges and universities reported 13,754 burglaries and robberies. During the same year, campuses reported 1,926 fires within student housing.

While risks such as theft, burglary, and campus fires are an ongoing problem on many college campuses, the good news is that there is a renters insurance policy that is designed just for college students. GradGuard’s college renters insurance contains an exclusive student endorsement that features a low-deductible, replacement coverage and worldwide property coverage. For about $.50 cents a day, families can protect students against losses that could otherwise disrupt a semester, making renters insurance a must have consideration for college families.

The Need for College Tuition Insurance:
College families are also smart to consider protecting themselves with Tuition Insurance. A 2017 survey of university bursars and health administrators confirmed that 84% of institutions do not provide a 100% refund. Even if the school provides a 100% refund for tuition, most schools do not refund academic fees or student housing.

Current Refund Policy Bar Chart Clip.jpeg

Tuition insurance can provide up to 100% refund for your expenses if a student gets sick, injured or have to leave school due to the death of a parent. Tuition insurance can cover those costs and help students get back to classes in the event of a medical withdrawal, without the added stress of a financial loss. Many tuition insurance plans provide coverage for not only tuition but also for expenses related to academic fees and student housing.

Research from the American College Health Association demonstrates that many student health issues including illnesses, accidents, and injuries are so serious that they can force a student to withdraw from classes. The good news is that college families can protect their investment by purchasing tuition insurance coverage starting at $33.75 for $2,500 per term.

Fees continued, “College families are often unaware that the investment they make in a college education can be at risk. From theft to student health, college students can be vulnerable to real financial losses that can disrupt their education. GradGuard’s search tool and unique insurance programs, however, make it convenient for college students and their families to protect their investment in higher education.”

Safety Uncategorized

Valuable Protection for International College Students

June 2, 2017

This is a big week for professionals who serve international students.

Screenshot 2017-06-02 11.23.16.jpegThe Association of International Educators, (NAFSA) is the world’s largest association dedicated to international education and exchange, is hosting its annual meeting and EXPO in Los Angeles.

With nearly one million international students attending American colleges and universities, it is important to understand the risks facing this valuable population.  International students will benefit from securing tuition insurance, renters insurance, and student health insurance prior to attending classes.

Three forms of insurance are particularly important for international students to consider securing to protect themselves from financial losses while studying in the United States.

International student health insurance – International students are often required to purchase student health insurance.  Typically students can purchase an affordable plan through their college or university or if they prefer they can also purchase it directly through GradGuard.

Tuition Insurance – If an international student becomes ill, injured or is forced to withdraw from classes mid-term, colleges and universities most often will only refund only a pro-rated amount of tuition and fees. Current Refund Policy Bar Chart Clip.jpeg

As a result, it is prudent for international students to become aware of the institution’s refund policy and to consider purchasing tuition insurance.  Tuition insurance is not drop out insurance but it can pay for the non-refunded losses to international students for tuition, academic fees, books, and housing.  Check the policy for complete details but tuition insurance is most often a smart buy for international students.

Tuition insurance is affordable and valuable protection but remember it must be purchased before the start of classes.
College Renters InsuranceMany international students are concerned about campus crime and safety.  Most are unprepared to replace a stolen computer or backpack, and many would benefit from the protection provided by renters insurance.

28000_burglaries_on_campus_copy.jpg

GradGuard’s renter’s insurance program is ideal for international students in that it does not require a credit check and provides worldwide property coverage

For less than $.50 cents a day, an international student can protect themselves from financial losses that they experience or are found responsible for.

GradGuard works with schools to provide our insurance programs to protect all students, but we are particularly sensitive to the unique needs of international students.  We know from experience that our student benefits provide real value to all students and particularly international students who may face even greater financial risk due to the investment they are making to attending college in the United States.  In a small way, we hope that GradGuard can improve the satisfaction and success of international college students.

Health Uncategorized

The Age of Anxiety & Dramatic Growth in Student Illnesses

October 31, 2016

This week’s Time Magazine had a cover that brings attention to the important trends facing young adults and college students.

time-magazine-cover-anxietyThe title “Anxiety, Depression & the American Adolescent” is a familiar theme to our team at GradGuard.  We watch student health trends closely and recognize it as a fundamental risk to the investment families make in a higher education.

Colleges and Universities have recognized the mental health needs of college students for some time. The growth, however, in mental health related illnesses is noteworthy and substantial.

The American College Health Association National College Health Assessment from 2010 – 2015 reports a dramatic growth in student reported incidents of the following illnesses.health chart twitter-02

The data is alarming, particularly considering that health incidents can often disrupt a student’s education.  Families are often aware that their college student may be vulnerable to the stress of college life but it is important to note that ordinary student health problems such as mononucleosis, chronic health conditions or injuries also may force a student to withdraw from classes and cost a student and their family thousands of dollars.

acha-chart-2015Supporting a college student through an unexpected event can be stressful and it is made worse if parents are not aware of the college refund policy. A 2016 survey by College Parents of America indicates 71% of parents do not recall being informed of the university refund policy and 67% of parents surveyed indicate that they have no idea how the school would handle a refund if their student was unable to complete classes.

In fact, in a 2015 national survey of college & university bursars & health administrators, less than a quarter of schools reported providing 100% refunds. According to the survey, most schools only refund a portion of tuition for qualified withdrawals through the fifth week of classes and virtually no school provides a refund for the academic fees.

GradGuard provides tuition insurance to help provide a refund when a school may not.    Starting at $29.00, tuition insurance can be an affordable form of protection for college students and families.   Coverage and pricing may differ by campus so check with your college or university or at GradGuard.com to find coverage that will protect your investment in college.  Remember like all insurance, coverage is determined by the actual policy.  A student must complete a medical withdrawal that is verified by the school.  Some illnesses require proof that it was

Remember like all insurance, coverage is determined by the actual policy.  A student must complete a medical withdrawal that is verified by the school.  Some illnesses require proof that severe enough to require the student to withdraw from classes mid-semester.   For instance, general anxiety regarding exams isn’t sufficient but mental health issues that require hospitalization generally are. Check your policy for complete details as certain states and schools have unique requirements.

GradGuard’s mission is to help protect the investment of college students and their families make in higher education.  Indeed, for many parents, college is the 1st or 2nd largest investment in their family financial life.  As a result, it is a smart move to know your college refund policy and to consider protecting your student with tuition insurance.