Browsing Tag

college refunds

Student Life

Financial Advisor Magazine: Want a College Refund for Covid Chaos?

October 6, 2020
Financial Advisor Magazine: Want a College Refund for Covid Chaos?

Even outside of a pandemic, getting a college tuition refund or reimbursement could be tricky. Confusion has only increased since the spring, and is coming to light even more now that fall semesters are in full swing at colleges and universities nationwide. 

Kevin Walker dives into the college refund conundrum for Financial Advisor Magazine.

Many schools attempted to curb outbreaks by delaying the start of in person classes, or switching entirely to online-only instruction. 

But despite Covid-19 concerns, many schools opened doors for on-campus learning and the inevitable spread of the virus still happened, despite mask requirements, rules against large groups and gatherings, and other restrictions, Walker states.

College And University Response

Some colleges and universities have tried to limit further spread by recommending students quarantine and shelter in place. Financial Advisor mentions the University of Arizona’s two-week shelter in place order that was implemented on September 14.

This semester is proving to definitely be a challenge for higher education administrators nationwide – at no real surprise. 

College Refund Policies

Adding to the chaos are college refund policies. The majority of colleges and universities provide no refunds for tuition beyond the first few weeks of classes, according to an Ipsos poll for Allianz Global Assistance. Virtually none provide refunds for academic fees and room and board. That same poll found that about 85% of parents and students said they would be hurt financially if there were no refund at all. 

As Walker states, it’s important to know what policies generally exist:

• When a student withdraws during a semester (because of illness or for some other reason) the college’s refund policy may include reimbursement, especially if the student withdraws within the first month.
• Colleges and universities typically offer refunds on a sliding scale. Most schools won’t give any money back at all after the fifth week of classes.
• On the other hand, if a student is expelled for a specific cause, such as not following the college’s Covid-19 guidelines, there’s no refund. 

Typical School Refund Policy

Tuition Insurance To The Rescue?

Tuition insurance provides refunds for students withdrawing from school for medical reasons. This is particularly helpful for students who withdraw in the middle of or late in the semester. Typically, they may not receive any tuition reimbursement at all. But tuition insurance can handle the amount not covered, including other fees that are typically excluded from college refund policies, Walker states. 

Tuition insurance doesn’t apply if a student leaves for academic or disciplinary reasons, or because they can’t afford the costs.

GradGuard, with nearly 400 school partners, is the largest provider of tuition insurance in the country. Plans exclude epidemics but the insurer issuing the policies, Allianz Global Assistance, announced in June it would cover students who had to withdraw due to contracting the coronavirus.

It’s important for students and families to know what’s covered and what’s not in terms of Covid-19 coverage:

  • Policies must be purchased prior to the start of classes. 
  • Don’t expect it to cover in-person classes moving to online-only instruction. 
  • Fear of attending class due to the virus isn’t covered.

Questions to Ask

Making sure you understand your school’s refund policy as it relates to Covid-19 and beyond will save you some surprises that may come up later on. Some of this may seem like a lot to take in, but with college being one of the largest investments most families will ever make, it’s smart for college students and families to look into the answers to these questions.

1. What is the college or university’s room and board refund policy? 
2. Is it possible to get a tuition refund if a student withdraws? What is the “sliding scale” of the refund-to-withdrawal time line?
3. What are the college or university’s current Covid-19 policies?
4. What disciplinary action occurs if a student doesn’t follow the Covid-19 policies?
5. What are the student loan options with the CARES Act?
6. Are there more options to pay for college if families’ employment situations have changed? Can the financial aid office take another look at the student’s financial aid package?
7. What are some ways students can make money in college or through off-campus jobs?

College students and families are prudent  to individually assess their own personal situations when it comes to tuition insurance.

Student Life

Testimonial: Why Renters Insurance is a Good Idea for College Students

July 29, 2020
College students are smart to consider renters insurance

College students have a lot of stuff with them on campus, and they’re often expensive items that aren’t easily replaced. And so it’s no surprise laptops or bicycles are stolen or damaged from time to time. Colleges don’t replace these items, but GradGuard’s Renters Insurance can. Garrett, a student at UC Santa Barbara purchased a policy because he thought it was a good idea. He shares his experience with filing a claim for his stolen bike.  

Simple way to prepare for the unexpected

Garrett learned about GradGuard’s Renters Insurance through his school. He said he heard about occasional bike thefts on campus, so he purchased a policy as a precaution.

His Renters Insurance came in handy when he returned from work one day to find his bike that was kept outside his apartment had been stolen. 

“I had gone out to work and then when I had gone back, I noticed something was off,” Garrett said. “I went inside my apartment and I came back outside and I realized that my bike was no longer there.”

Garrett, a student at UC Santa Barbara and a GradGuard member, shares his experience filing a claim when his bike was stolen.

Garrett called GradGuard to file a claim for his stolen bike. He was smart to think ahead, and take a picture of his receipt when he bought the bike, to be able to show proof of purchase. 

He says he’d definitely recommend GradGuard after he was able to get some money back to buy a new bike. 

Garrett called GradGuard to file a claim for his stolen bike.

“I think just having insurance, in general, is a pretty good idea, since you never know what can happen,” Garrett said. 

College students are smart to consider protecting themselves and their belongings with renters insurance.

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 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. The majority of schools 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 accidental damages you may cause. True renters insurance includes personal liability protection and can help pay for unintentional damages when a student cannot.

Health Uncategorized

Considering tuition insurance? Here’s why one family calls it a “lifesaver”

August 24, 2019
GradGuard member Camrey and her mother, Mindy explain how tuition insurance helped their family

The National Student Clearinghouse, which follows the status of undergraduates at institutions eligible for federal aid, publishes the most reliable data on college completion measures including something called the “persistence” rate. This is the percentage of students who return to college at any institution for their second year. 

According to the organization’s most recent report, of the 3.5 million students who enrolled in college for the first time in fall 2017, 74% returned to any U.S. school the following fall. That means one in four students who start college, do not return to any college the following year. That’s nearly 900,000 students went through all the trouble and expense to enroll, possibly borrow money, apply for and receive government grants, purchase books, and perhaps even move, but did not return to school the next year. They also did not transfer to another school.

This helps put in perspective the value and need for tuition insurance. Though the primary reasons students do not return to school appear to be factors related to academic readiness and capacity to pay, the truth is other life events get in the way.

This is where GradGuard’s Tuition Insurance can help. When a student needs to withdraw for legitimate reasons such as unexpected illness, injury or accident, tuition insurance can provide a refund when colleges may not.

The best way to see the value of tuition insurance is to hear from a member who enrolled in the program. Indeed, as one of GradGuard’s customer reports:

“Tuition Insurance was such a lifesaver. It should be an option on every college and university website,” – Mindy D., GradGuard member

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.

“It saved our family’s lives. I would tell everyone to get tuition insurance.”

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, Camrey, was enrolled. As a college parent, she clearly expresses the value of tuition insurance and the peace of mind it provided to her and her family as they cared for Camrey’s well-being.

This article was updated in May 2020.

Health Uncategorized

What would happen if your college student unexpectedly needs to withdraw from college?

August 7, 2019

GradGuard’s tuition insurance provides a refund when schools don’t.

Nationwide, college families are busy preparing to pay their final tuition bill before arriving on campus.  Among the many questions, families of college-bound students are smart to ask is – What will happen to my tuition payment if my child must withdraw from college?

According to John Fees, co-founder of GradGuard™, a leading authority in helping students and their families protect their investment in higher education for over a decade, “The thousands of dollars students and families are paying for college are at risk. As a result, it is a smart move for anyone paying tuition to understand their school’s refund policy and to consider protecting their investment with tuition insurance.”

In fact, a survey of university bursars and health administrators confirmed the vast majority of colleges and universities (about 84%) do not provide a complete refund should a student withdraw after the first few weeks of school.  Many schools may refund a portion of tuition through the first few weeks of school, but you can safely assume tuition will likely not be refunded after the 5th week of classes and academic fees are usually not eligible for a refund.

This risk can often surprise college parents. In fact, according to a 2018 College Parents of America survey, only 24% of parents surveyed indicated that the college refund policy was disclosed to them during the enrollment process.

Families are often aware that their college student may be vulnerable to the stress of college life. The National College Health Assessment produced by the American College Health Association demonstrates growth in chronic illnesses and rapid growth in serious mental health incidents during the past five years.

It is important for families to note that student health incidents force thousands of students to withdraw from classes annually without the ability to recover the thousands of dollars paid for classes and housing.

The Top Three Reasons GradGuard’s Tuition Insurance Is A Smart Decision:

  • If the school does not provide a 100% refund  – Do you know your school’s refund policy? A majority of school refund policies do not extend beyond the fifth week of school, and many don’t refund the full cost of tuition after the start of classes.  
  • If the student has more than $1,000 of academic expenses – Even if the school provides a 100% refund for tuition, most do not refund academic fees or student housing costs. Many tuition insurance plans provide coverage not only for tuition but also for expenses related to academic fees and student housing.
  • If the student or family is taking out a student loan – Student (and parent) loans must be repaid even if a student must take a medical withdrawal. Tuition insurance can be used to repay the balance of these loans or help pay for the next term when the student is healthy enough to return to school.

“With so much money at stake, it is vital that families develop a plan in case their student has to withdraw from school due to a serious illness or injury,” said Mr.  Fees. “No matter where a student attends college, families deserve the opportunity to protect their investment in higher education and nearly all students will benefit from securing a minimum level of coverage. Just remember tuition insurance must be purchased before school starts.”

The good news is that college families can easily protect their investment by purchasing tuition insurance through GradGuard.

Adulting Uncategorized

WSJ – Tuition Insurance Catches On as Costs Rise, Students Struggle to Adjust

August 19, 2018

Appeared in the August 20, 2018, print edition as ‘Demand for Tuition Insurance Is Surging.’

‘The cost of college is driving this,’ ‘

Families cannot afford the loss of $30,000, John Fees – Co-Founder of GradGuard.

As college tuition rises so too has demand for insurance to cover what in many cases is among a family’s biggest investments.

For Mindy DiCostra, a tuition-insurance policy was a life-saver last year after her daughter withdrew mid-semester in her junior year at Marymount Manhattan College in New York following an allergic reaction to an anxiety medication.

Because Ms. DiCostra agreed to pay $238 for tuition insurance when doing paperwork for the school, she was eligible to receive a full reimbursement for the $16,000 in tuition she and her husband had paid for the semester.

“I had no idea how important it would be when I checked that box,” she said.

Tuition insurance protects families in case their son or daughter has to drop out of school past the point at which a school offers tuition reimbursement, usually around halfway through the semester. Driving the increased demand are higher college costs and, to a lesser extent, rising mental-health disorders among college students that have raised concerns among parents that their children may struggle away from home.

About 70,000 policies were written across the U.S. market last year, up from 20,000 five years ago, said John Fees, co-founder of GradGuard, which started selling tuition-reimbursement insurance seven years ago. It works with campuses including the University of Pennsylvania, Auburn University and New York University, its website says.

“The cost of college is driving this,” said Mr. Fees. “Families cannot afford the loss of $30,000.”

The average published tuition and fees at a private college has increased to $34,740 in 2017 from $15,160 in 1988 according to the College Board. The numbers are adjusted for inflation.

“I think a lot of families don’t fully grasp that if they have to withdraw midterm it can have a significant financial impact,” said Paige Lee Director of Tuition Insurance at Allianz. College is “the second largest investment most families will ever make” after a home.

Most schools have some sort of reimbursement policy but they generally don’t cover withdrawals during the second half of the semester. At Vanderbilt University, a student will be reimbursed for some portion of his or her tuition and room and board up until about halfway through the semester. After that, they don’t receive anything.

Tuition and housing at Vanderbilt costs about $59,000, and 80% of that can be reimbursed with insurance, which costs about $530, said Chris Cook, who oversees the financial accounts of students at the school.

Several companies provide tuition insurance, Most policies charge in the neighborhood of 1% of the cost of school. A semester that runs $30,000 would cost about $300. At least 200 schools now work with insurers, offering the coverage to families when the pay the tuition bill.

Liberty Mutual Insurance started offering tuition-reimbursement policies this year, in part because of consumer demand. When a student drops out mid-semester parents are often “very surprised to learn that you may not get anything back,” said Michele Chevalier, a senior director at Liberty Mutual.

Not everyone thinks the plans are necessary. Jodi Okun, a college financial adviser in Los Angeles, said she has so far steered her clients away from tuition insurance because she doesn’t feel it is necessary in most cases. However, she has but counseled them to be aware of the timeline for withdrawals, so if a student is struggling with a mental-health issue they can leave in time to recoup the cost.

“I tell them, make sure you know when the deadlines are, especially if they are going far away to school,” she said.

Plans don’t typically cover students who drop out for academic or disciplinary reasons but will for medical reasons. Generally, insurers don’t ask about pre-existing conditions, either mental or physical. The idea, GradGuard’s Mr. Fees said, is: “If a student is healthy enough to start to a semester, they qualify.”

Insurers say that the number of claims they receive citing mental health incidents has risen. As many as one in four students at some elite U.S. colleges are now classified as disabled, largely because of mental-health issues such as depression or anxiety, according to the National Center for Education Statistics and interviews with schools.

Carmen Duarte, a spokesperson for A.W.G. Dewar, Inc. which has been offering tuition-reimbursement policies since the 1930s, said claims have remained flat for physical-health incidents but increased for mental-health reasons. She said policies are most likely to be bought by families of first year students. Allianz Insurance, which began selling the policies in 2015, said about 20% of claims were for mental health and 70% were for physical health.

Write to Douglas Belkin at doug.belkin@wsj.com

Corrections & Amplifications
Michele Chevalier is a senior director at Liberty Mutual. An earlier version of this article misspelled her first name. (Aug. 19)

 

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.

Adulting Uncategorized

Can you afford to pay for an extra semester? If not, consider tuition insurance today.

July 8, 2017

College can be costly and stressful. For as many perks and peaks as there are, it does have its fair share of stress.

With bulks of work and the frequent demands to prepare for the future, balancing your life in and out of school can be a tough task.  Sometimes you overdo it to the point where you get ill with the flu, mono, depression or any other school and stress related side effect that you can think of. If you get sick or injured and you’re forced to withdraw from school, what happens to your investment? Most times, you will not be refunded the thousands of dollars you are paying for college.

Most times, you will not be refunded the thousands of dollars you are paying for college.  As a result, it is smart to consider purchasing tuition refund insurance and nearly essential if these statements apply to you.

  • If your college does not provide 100% refund?  – Do you know your school’s refund policy?  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.
  • 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 the expenses 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 get back to classes, without the added stress of a financial loss.
  • If students 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.

Tuition insurance can help you minimize the risk of financial loss due to withdrawal. It’s not “drop-out” insurance, but should you need to withdraw from school for a covered medical reason, tuition insurance can help protect that investment – your tuition and other fees. Helping safeguard your investment, tuition insurance can help give your family greater peace of mind this semester.

 

Health Uncategorized

What will happen if you have to withdraw from college?

August 13, 2016

College can be costly and stressful. For as many perks and peaks as there are, it does have its fair share of stress.  With bulks of work and the frequent demands to prepare for the future, balancing your life in and out of school can be a tough task.

acha-chart-2015

Sometimes students overdo it to the point where you get ill with the flu, mono, depression or any other school and stress related side effect that you can think of. In fact, college students have many unique illnesses that may force them to withdraw from school.

Data from the American College Health Association demonstrates that many student health issues are so serious that they can force a student to withdraw from classes.

If you get sick or injured and you’re forced to withdraw from school, what happens to your investment?

do not refund image 2 1080x628

Most times, you will not be refunded the thousands of dollars you are paying for college.  Though universities often refund a portion of your tuition thru the first weeks of school you can safely assume that none of your tuition will be refunded after the 5th week of classes and that your academic fees will also not be eligible for a refund.

A survey of university bursars and health administrators confirmed that 84% of institutions do not provide a 100% refund.  When you consider the fact that many families invest more than $30,000 a year in college tuition, it makes tuition insurance a smart buy.

Tuition insurance can help you minimize the risk of financial loss due to withdrawal. It’s not “drop-out” insurance, but should you need to withdraw from school for a covered medical reason, tuition insurance can help protect that investment – your tuition and other fees.

GradGuard offers tuition insurance starting at $33.75 for $2,500 of coverage but typically is about $135 for every $10,000 of coverage you need.  GradGuard also offers special pricing and coverage options at more than 300 colleges and universities. Schools that integrate tuition insurance within the billing process can often save students money on the coverage.

It is important to consider:

a) Your school’s refund policy.

b) If you can afford the financial loss should become ill or injured.

c) Getting protection before classes start.  Just like you can’t buy insurance after a fire or theft, you must buy tuition insurance before classes start.