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college risks

Safety

Cybersecurity Measures to Take as a Remote College Student

March 16, 2021

Remote learning has become the norm for many college students all over the country. It was already growing in popularity over the last several years. But, the COVID-19 pandemic created a boom in remote learning to keep everyone safe.

Moving into a post-pandemic world, remote learning is here to stay for some. It’s extremely beneficial for those who need a flexible schedule or anyone who might be looking for a more affordable way to attend college.

But, for all of the benefits, there are also some potential drawbacks and risks. One of the biggest concerns for remote college students should be cybersecurity and knowing how to keep yourself safe online. While you might not have to deal with things like on-campus crime, cyber criminals can do just as much damage with your personal information.

Here’s what you can do to protect yourself from cybercrime as a remote college student.

Understand the Risks

Any time you submit personal information online, it can be a risk. Educate yourself ahead of time on your college’s cybersecurity program(s) and privacy policies.

A school’s cybersecurity priorities should include:

  • Network monitoring
  • Data monitoring
  • Protective controls
  • Network segmentation
  • Password management
  • Vulnerability scanning

If your college is offering remote learning opportunities, they should be upfront about the security measures they have in place. Their IT department should be available to work with you as often as possible, and it should be easily accessible.

You should also put some measures in place at home to keep yourself as safe as possible, especially if you’re giving out financial or medical information. Invest in security measures that medical services use, like antivirus software, and make sure you never give personal information to any school website that isn’t secure.

Keep Yourself Safe – Wherever You Are

One of the perks of being a remote student is that you can take classes anywhere. But, when you’re off-campus, you might not have a strong cybersecurity system in place to keep you safe from threats. It’s important to know what to look out for when it comes to those threats, so you can reduce your risk of an attack.

Some of the most common cyber threats are:

  • Phishing emails
  • Denial of service
  • Malware programs

It’s also important to be aware of “man-in-the-middle” attacks. These occur when a perpetrator steps into a digital conversation, usually when you’re trying to get help. For example, if you’re having problems with a software program or website, you might see a chatbot pop up. A perpetrator can pose as someone offering to help you, but their main goal is to steal information. Be aware of red flags asking for too much information or things that aren’t relevant to the conversation.

Educating yourself on these threats (and others) can keep you from becoming a victim of viruses or having your personal information stolen.

The risk of cybersecurity threats shouldn’t keep you from taking college courses online. But, knowing that the risks are out there and how you can keep yourself safe from them is a crucial component in the success of your remote learning process.

BIO: Dan Matthews is a writer with a degree in English from Boise State University. He has extensive experience writing online at the intersection of business, finance, marketing, and culture.

Health

Bloomberg: Tuition Insurance Sounds Great, Unless it Doesn’t Cover Covid-19

November 16, 2020

As Covid-19 outbreaks continue to pop up nationwide, college campuses are no exemption. Naturally, college parents are anxious about their kids’ health. Olivia Raimonde, Janet Wu and Katherine Chiglinsky took a deep dive for Bloomberg into the health and financial worries of Covid-19 and college.

The feature, ‘Tuition Insurance Sounds Great, Unless It Doesn’t Cover Covid-19’ includes an interview with a GradGuard member, Marcy Fischer, about her decision to send her daughter to Emory University with Tuition Insurance. Covering her daughter’s tuition and off-campus lease comes to about $30,000 per semester.

“You know, if they just get sent home from school and go virtual, that’s one thing,” Fischer, who lives in Massachusetts, told Bloomberg. “But if they were to get sick and have to withdraw from university for the semester, we’d be out that money.”

To cover the risk of losing tens of thousands of dollars, Fischer bought a tuition insurance plan from GradGuard, she told Bloomberg. The plan can cover what would have been otherwise lost tuition expenses and other fees if a student is too sick to finish the semester.

Atlanta-based Emory University is one of the nearly 400 colleges and universities that partner with GradGuard to offer college students and their families the best rate and coverage for tuition insurance. Fischer was able to protect a semester’s worth of expenses, $30,000, for around $300. Any student attending a four-year non-profit college or university can purchase a policy, however, the policies are underwritten by Allianz Global Assistance and are more costly if purchased directly online.    

Interest in tuition insurance has jumped significantly over the year, as the pandemic made the financial risk of college even more apparent, according to John Fees, CEO of GradGuard.

“Families are more aware than ever before of the risks of paying for college,” Fees said.

Epidemics and pandemics are typically excluded from GradGuard’s Tuition Insurance coverage. However, until further notice, GradGuard is choosing to accommodate claims for students who completely withdraw from school due to becoming ill with Covid.

In addition to Covid, Bloomberg goes on to explain that tuition insurance can also cover withdrawals due to other types of illness, including mental health conditions.

But it’s important to note that tuition insurance won’t cover costs if a school moves from in-person classes to online-only learning.

“It’s a medical withdrawal, not a change in how schools teach,” Fees said. “It’s not a business interruption insurance.”

GradGuard’s Tuition Insurance is an affordable way for college students and families to protect what’s often the second-largest investment in their lives. Covid outbreaks on college campuses highlight further proof of how costly it can be for these families when a student is forced to withdraw.

Other Transition

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.

Other Transition

Three College Surprises to Avoid

August 22, 2016

Given my work with colleges and universities over the past twenty years, I am often asked by college parents for advice on many diverse topics.  Most recently, parents I speak with are particularly concerned about the cost of college and campus safety.

1) Do you have a FERPA Consent?   The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) was designed to protect the privacy of educational records and to establish the rights of students to inspect and review their educational records. Don’t be surprised, but 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 by executing this easy to use consent form.

2) Does your campus provide 100% refunds?   If your student is forced to withdraw from school due to an unexpected medical reason, it is unlikely that your school will provide a 100% refund. It is more likely that you will lose thousands of dollars in non-refundable tuition and fees.  Note that tuition insurance from GradGuard refunds your tuition and fees when your school may not.  Starting at $33.75 for $2,500 of coverage (Typical costs are around $135 for $10,000 of coverage) it is a practical way to help your student to return to school and overcome the financial loss that might otherwise result from your student’s medical withdrawal from college.  Be sure to know your school’s refund policy and remember that tuition insurance must be purchased prior to the start of classes.

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.  The 2018 Clery Act reported nearly 11,000 burglaries on campus and more than 2,000 fires.  In addition, the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report confirmed more than 73,545 thefts most of which 96% were property crimes – theft of backpacks, computers and bicycles.  So it is vital to remind your student that they may be vulnerable and need to be on guard. Take an inventory and pictures of all valuable property and receipts and have them available if you need to make an insurance claim.  Be sure to evaluate the benefits of a low-deductible renters insurance plan such as the one offered through schools by GradGuard. For about $15 a month, you can have coverage to replace your student’s stolen or damaged property.  There are many reasons why renters insurance is a smart buy for college families.

Bottom Line:  No One Likes To Be Surprised

It is true that some families may be able to replace stolen property or pay for an extra semester of college if their student is forced to withdraw for medical reasons, but if they can’t then I recommend that they seriously consider both tuition and renters insurance from GradGuard.

Bill Suneson and our team at GradGuard are focused on our mission to help protect the investment college families make in a college education.  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 is worth remembering that only 53% of college students who started college in 2003 graduated within 6 years.  Name another large investment/purchase that has such an uncertain outcome.

Bottom line, don’t be surprised if some unexpected event delays your student’s graduation and be prepared in case it does.