Browsing Tag

college student success

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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.

Health Other

Top 3 Reasons College Tuition Insurance Is a Smart Decision

July 11, 2019

When college families and their students are discussing college, the topic of money always comes up in the conversation. For good reason too! Did you know that the combination of tuition, fees and room and board charges average between $20,000-$50,000 a year?

For many college families, the expense of a higher education is one of the largest investments they will make. Since there is so much money at stake, we suggest that college parents make a plan in case their student is forced to withdraw from school due to severe injury or illness. Of course, if you are one of the few families out there that can afford to lose your large investment, then tuition insurance may not be necessarily needed for you.

However, for most of the twenty million college students and their families, the financial loss of an entire college semester is a burden big enough to break the bank. As a result, college families are smart to consider the purchase of tuition insurance prior to the start of the school semester.

3 Reasons Tuition Insurance is a Smart Decision

  1. If you can’t afford to lose the tuition paid for a semester at school – Tuition insurance can provide up to 100% refund of your expenses in the instance that a student gets severely ill or injured; it can also help cover the costs needed to get back on your feet in the event of needing to withdrawal.
  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 after the start of classes. Be sure to check with your school to see what their policy is so you can see how much of your money is at risk.
  3. If you have additional academic expenses – Even if the school does provide you with a 100% refund for tuition, most schools do not refund academic fees or student housing. Many tuition insurance plans can provide coverage for academic fees and student housing in addition to tuition.

Student health incidents like illnesses, accidents, and injuries happen frequently, even to young and healthy college students. The good news is that college families can protect their investment by purchasing tuition insurance! Visit our website at www.gradguard.com/tuitioninsurance to see the plans available on your campus!

Other Student Life

New Search Tool Makes It Easy to Find College Student Insurance

July 10, 2019

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 tuition and fees for full-time four-year undergraduates for 2018-19 is $36,890 for private non-profit universities, according to the College Board’s 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.

“When you consider the facts,” co-founder of GradGuard, John Fees states, “It’s 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 need to consider protecting themselves with renters insurance. According to reports from the 2017 Clery Act, colleges and universities reported 18,458 burglaries and robberies. During the same year, campuses reported 1,830 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.

Tuition insurance can provide up to 100% refund for your expenses if a student gets sick, injured or has to leave school due to a covered reason. Tuition insurance can help cover those costs 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.

“College families are often unaware that the investment they make in a college education can be at risk,” Fees continued. “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.”

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The Three S’s of College

July 9, 2019

School, social life and sleep; the three S’s of college. These three aspects tend to be the main focal points of a college student’s life and how a student manages these three aspects can determine the amount of success a student obtains during their college career. More often than not one of the three S’s is sacrificed due to a student focusing more on the other two.

Sleep 

Sleep tends to be the S that is sacrificed the most by students. Students can get so caught up in school work that a two-hour homework/study session turns into a 6 hr shift. Other times students will succumb to the fear of missing out going to parties or just hanging with friends. In this case, even when they are dead tired, they will still stay up just to see if anything interesting happens. Then they believe that caffeine can be used to supplement the lack of sleep, which for a short term fix will work only to bring on a harder crash later. 

School

Many students can say that they have slept through a class or two during their time in college. Often what will happen is students will go out knowing that they have class early the next day. Some students fall into the trap of staying out too late and sleeping through their morning class. This S can be put on the backburner for some students if it is seen as less important. It is important for students to prioritize school. Make sure to attend class and put in the hard work to make the most out of your college experience!

Social life

For the average student social life is sacrificed the least. It is important to be socially active by making friends and building connections but it should not take precedence over the other two so much that you are left in a difficult situation. Have fun and enjoy college life but do not forget about the reason you are in college in the first place! 

Finding the balance

Finding the right balance of the three S’s can be difficult, however, it is not impossible to achieve. It takes time, effort and discipline to work out a schedule that allows you to fulfill all three areas while not taking away from one at the expense of the other two. Some students believe that putting weekly tasks on a whiteboard or calendar setting blocks of time to work on those tasks allows them to effectively manage their time. It is important to figure out the methods that work best for you!

Remember to check out GradGuard on social media for all your college tips and tricks to prepare you for the fall semester!

Other Student Life

Five Reasons Tuition Insurance is a Smart Decision

July 1, 2019

For many college families, the expense of higher education is one of the largest investments they will make. In fact, according to College Data – the average published in-state tuition, fees, and room and board charges for the 2019-2020 school year was $26,590; with tuition exceeding $50,000 at private institutions.

With so much money at stake, it’s smart for college families to have a back-up plan in case your student needs to withdraw from the university due to a certain illness or injury. Supporting a college student through an unexpected event like this can be stressful and can absolutely be made worse if parents don’t know the university’s refund policy. In most cases, universities don’t offer refunds of tuition costs outside of the first few weeks of classes; that’s why college families should consider tuition insurance.

The Top 5 Reasons Tuition Insurance is a Smart Decision

  1. If you can’t afford to lose the investment you are making each semester: Tuition Insurance can provide up to a 100% refund of your expenses if your student needs to completely withdraw from the university due to a covered reason. Tuition insurance could 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? As mentioned above, most schools don’t offer refunds after the fifth week of the semester. In fact, in a 2020 survey done by HigherEdStudy of college and university bursars and heath administrators, only 6% 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 academic fees.
  3. Not every student graduates: There are many factors that may disrupt a student’s education. Tuition insurance is not drop-out insurance, but it can help you to avoid the financial loss if your student needs to withdraw from school due to a covered illness or injury.
  4. If you have additional academic expenses: On the off-chance that the school does provide a 100% refund for tuition, most do not refund academic fees or student housing. Many tuition insurance plans can provide coverage for not only tuition but also for expenses related to academic fees and housing.
  5. Student health and well-being can force a student to withdraw from classes: The American Health Association National College Health Assessment reports that student health incidents such as illness, accidents, and injuries happen frequently, even to your healthy college students. It is important to note that ordinary student health problems such as mono, chronic health conditions, or injuries may also force your student to withdraw from classes and cost them thousands of dollars.

The Investment in College and your Student Deserve Protection

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.

Other Student Life

Do College Students Need Renters Insurance or Does a Homeowner’s Policy Provide the Right Coverage?

July 1, 2019

In 2019, the average college family spent an average of $976.78 per student on back to college shopping. You need a lot of things for college, but are those belongings safe in your residence hall or off-campus apartment? As you pack up your things for school, you may want to consider ways to protect your stuff. Insurance is one way to protect these items by offering financial protection in the case of a loss. However, it can be confusing to know what kind of insurance you need to protect your belongings (and liability!) and how much that can cost.

The first step is to determine whether your parents have homeowners insurance, then ask them about the terms of that insurance. Will it extend to cover you while at school? Is it enough coverage? If the answer is no to either of these questions, you may want to consider Renters Insurance. But how do you know what to get?

Luckily, I had the opportunity to sit down with GradGuard founder and insurance expert Bill Suneson to get the scoop, which is summarized for you below.

When a student moves into a residence hall, typically the terms of the housing agreement make it clear that the school is not responsible for stolen or damaged personal property. Also, the student becomes personally liable for any damage caused to the dorm room or residence hall. The same applies to most rental agreements if you move into an apartment off-campus. Without the proper insurance, you (and your family) can incur a significant financial loss if you cause unintended damage to your residence or suffer a loss to your personal property. For example, if you burn the wall making a late night snack, or someone steals your bike, without insurance the burden is on you to replace those items and pay for the damage.

GradGuard College Renters insurance is an easy and affordable way to protect your personal property against theft, water damage, fire, etc.  It is not uncommon for a laptop computer or bicycle to be stolen from a dorm (you can probably name a friend this has happened to) and most low-deductible renters insurance plans would provide a quick replacement.

Also, a renters insurance plan protects students if you are personally liable for causing damage to your residence – colleges or building owners would promptly bill you for your portion of the loss. It’s not something you would necessarily think about when you’re excited to move in and start the semester, but just remember about how easy it could be to inadvertently trigger the sprinkler system if you caused a small fire cooking in your kitchen.  That’s a lot of money and damage that you’d be responsible for. Without the proper coverage, you may find yourself with a hefty bill.

GradGuard is just one way to protect yourself. You may already have some coverage thanks to your parents. Yes, most homeowner’s insurance policies do extend coverage to students when they are away at college. However, your parents should review their policy closely before you leave for college as some policies may have certain limitations.  For instance, policies may limit coverage to students attending college full-time or living on-campus (even more restrictions if the student is living off-campus.)

But there are some things to consider about a homeowner’s insurance policy that you should discuss with your parents. Most homeowner’s policies have high deductibles and families are unlikely to file claims such as a $500 bike theft because the payment would not exceed their deductible.  Also, home insurance rates are increasing and filing small property or liability claims generally result in higher rates for your family over time.

With deductibles as low as $100 and most premiums about $.50 a day, GradGuard College Renters Insurance is both valuable and affordable for students even though some coverage may exist through their parents’ homeowner’s policy.  Spend a couple minutes reviewing this information with your parents to figure out what will work best for you and your family. You may find you feel comfortable with the cost of replacing your personal items and decide against coverage altogether, but you may find you want some protection. As always, speak with an agent to find the best policy for you. Happy packing!

This article was updated in July 2020

Other Student Life

A College Student’s Financial Bucket List

June 25, 2019

You’re about to graduate from college, and you’re staring at your financial future with wide eyes. But the more uncertainty that exists in a situation, the more freedom there is to shape it the way you need it. One great way to approach your fiscal future is to create a “bucket list” of things to do as soon as possible to improve your financial success. These simple tips will help you save a lot of money and give you the chance to reinvest in your future.

Cut Your Entertainment Costs

If you’re like most college students, you probably incur entertainment expenses that you might not be able to afford once they’re no longer subsidized. For example, you might have a combo of cable, Netflix, Prime or other streaming accounts, books, comics, and much more. If you seriously cut your entertainment budget to only a few options that you use regularly, you can save yourself real money.

In the analog sphere, stop buying books and magazines and, instead, visit the library. Digitally, you could cancel your cable and streaming video accounts, and turn to YouTube and other free sites. Don’t forget that you can also visit the library to find movies and even television shows. You’ll be amazed at how much you can save if you slash your entertainment budget in this way.

Don’t Be Afraid of Roommates

Like many students just out of college, you probably want to get a place for yourself as soon as possible. However, your post-college years are the best time to get a roommate or two. During this time, you’ll be able to save money on rent if you live with friends or people you know.

This step is also a smart choice if you want to move to a new city shortly after graduation. If you pair this step with relocating to a new and less expensive city, like Tampa, your chances of saving money grows exponentially.

Start a Side Hustle

This is the retirement strategy favored by most millennials these days. Many people of this generation — and many others— use the side hustle as a way to explore their hobbies as a source of financing. For example, you might sell paintings, clothes you’ve made, or many more items, or you might offer services you can render for a fee.

You can also try to collect items such as old electronics, cell phones, gift cards, vintage furniture, and more. Fix these items up, flip them for a buck, and you can make a small bundle of cash. While you’re piling up this profit, as with any business venture, you need to make sure that you keep track of tax expenses to avoid issues in the future.

Use Public Transportation

If you own a car or are thinking of getting one, why not instead focus on public transportation, which is loads cheaper? Though you may spend $5 for a bus ticket to get to and from work every day, you’d still ultimately be paying a lot less than if you buy (or even just maintain) a car. Let’s break this down financially.

If you buy a new car and pay $350 per month in payments and $250 in insurance, you’re paying $600 every month. By contrast, paying $5 per day for public transportation racks up a mere $150 during the 30 days of any month. That difference represents a huge savings you can’t ignore.

These ideas are just a handful of the many ways you can save money and work toward financial success as a college student. Try to expand to other plans if you have the skills and patience, and never sell yourself short. If you cut your expenses and build up your income for a few years in college or just after graduation, you could walk away with huge savings — and a more stable financial future.

For more tips on preparing for life after graduation and making the most out of your college experience follow @GradGuard on our social media!

Other Transition

Getting The Most Out of Life by Planning for Graduation

June 25, 2019

College is a liberating time in a person’s life. The time right before graduation is a last chance to get some fun in. It’s an opportunity to grow with the full freedom of both time and youth and to consider the future before you’re forced into it. That’s why it’s important to focus on three very important points before you graduate.

Learn How And What To Cook

It is important to learn the valuable skill of cooking before graduating from college. A poor diet takes considerable time to hurt us and it could be years or even a decade after graduation before you realize how tired and out of shape you’ve become.

When you learn early, you’ll have the time you need to find healthy foods that you actually like. It’ll not only set you up for a healthy life after graduation but it’s also a fantastic skill to share with others in your life.

Get An Early Start On Fitness

Like with your diet, when you realize that you need rather than want to focus on it you won’t have the time. When you’re still in school you’ll have the chance to really test what workouts work best for you.

You’re also using this time to figure out if the workout is something you could keep up for the rest of your life. If it’s not, this is the chance to try something new or modify your routine until it’s maintainable. Plus, there are quite a few additional benefits to working on physical fitness.

You’re developing an important tool that’ll help you be there for the people you care about. There’s something fantastic in the knowledge that your body is strong enough to ensure you can be of help in times of danger or stress.

Physical fitness is a great way to regulate your mood. Amazingly enough, it even serves as an effective treatment for some mental illness. For example, exercise and fitness often help people suffering from depression.

Travel And Study In A Distant Land

It’s essential that you get some travel and vacation time in before you graduate. People tend to assume that they’ll have all the time in the world for travel. But in reality, vacations tend to become more and more scarce over time.

Any student capable of doing so should consider looking into any chance to study abroad. Different cultures tend to be a bit healthier than ours in regards to diet and fitness and getting that help early on can provide a number of benefits down the road.

There are many benefits to focusing on building a foundation of wellness in college and taking advantage of opportunities that are presented to you. This is a critical time in your life and there is no reason to squander it. GradGuard is committed to aiding college students by protecting their investment in their education and protecting the items that are most important to them.

Follow @GradGuard on social media for more advice on how to make the most of your college experience.

BIO: Brett Clawson has a degree in Business Management and has started a couple of small businesses. When he’s not focusing his time on those, he spends time with his wife and two sons. His oldest son has entered the wonderful realm of college, and he now enjoys sharing tips that he and his son have found essential for college life.

Other Student Life

Pros and Cons of Having a Car on Campus

June 25, 2019

When you arrive on campus there are many difficult decisions to make. One decision that many students grapple with is whether or not to bring their car to school. There are many factors to consider such as the distance of your school from your home, the climate where your school is located, and the price of gas. Here are some pros and cons to consider before bringing your car to campus.  

Pros

Freedom to travel where you need to go

Having a car will make it easier to go off campus and travel. You won’t have to rely on public transportation or have to ask other people to get around. It can be helpful to be able to drive to the grocery store or have the ability to go on a short trip.

Cut down on flight costs

If you have a car on campus you will not have to purchase plane tickets when you want to go back home. This, of course, depends on whether or not you are going to a school that is close to where you live. A car will allow you to travel home without paying a hefty flight price.

Ability to transport your possessions

It can be difficult to move in and out of your residence when in college and having a car may assist with this process. The ability to drive to college with your possessions is very valuable. You can cut down on the cost of a storage unit and won’t have to worry too much about shipping your items.

Cons

You might get taken advantage of

If you are the person in your friend group who has a car, some people may start treating you like their personal taxi service. If you create boundaries you may avoid this issue but there is always the risk of others using you for your car.

You need to pay for parking and gas

A burden of having a car on campus is that you typically have to pay a hefty fee just to park it. This varies among different schools but this added expense can be bigger than expected. Another thing to consider is the price of gas. This may be a high cost depending on your location.

Weather conditions

If you are going to school somewhere with harsh winters, it may not be the best conditions for having a car. The snow can be an issue for college students who have cars on campus, especially if the student is not used to living in that type of climate.

The decision of whether or not to bring your car to campus is contingent on the different factors presented. It’s a choice that some students are happy with and other’s regret. No matter your decision, it is important to be prepared and to be aware of all the conditions.

GradGuard is a great resource for students who want to be prepared for any surprises that life may present them with. Follow GradGuard on social media to stay up to date on valuable advice and tips for your first year of college.

Health Other

Finding That Drive to go to the Gym

June 13, 2019

Another week passes by and you didn’t go to the gym once. Maybe you are starting to reconsider paying $20/month to feel guilty every time you sleep in. Most of us want to go to the gym. But we also want to avoid academic probation. And watch New Girl. And sleep for more than four hours. Actually getting yourself to the gym as a college student can feel impossible at times, but these tips will make it easier.

Find a Gym Buddy

Having someone to go to the gym with is crucial. Knowing that someone is expecting you to meet them at the gym at 5:00 am might be just the push you need to get out of bed. Odds are they need that push too. Having a gym buddy creates a symbiotic relationship where you and your workout partner can motivate each other to “get jacked” (or do yoga).

Put it in Your Calendar

Saying “I’ll go when I have time” is not an effective strategy for making it to the gym. You’re a college student; you never have time! Plan a time, put it in your calendar, and stick to it. If you don’t know what time of the day you are going to the gym then you will never go.

Note: Most gyms are going to be crowded early in the morning and later at night. If working out in a full gym bothers you then try to go between 11a-4p.

Create a Workout Schedule

Don’t overcomplicate this part. Maybe you know you want to do cardio on Monday and Wednesday and weights on Tuesday and Thursday. Your workout schedule does not need to be overly specific, but it does need to exist. One of the main reasons we don’t go to the gym is because we have no idea what we are going to do when we get there. If you have no idea how to create a workout schedule, Google it. Thousands of workout programs are available for free online, so find one that will work for you.

Find Something to Listen to

Whether it’s tunes, podcasts, or audiobooks, having something to entertain you while you are at the gym will help motivate you a little more. Try finding a podcast or audiobook you enjoy and then commit to only listening to it at the gym; that way you will feel more inclined to go and have something specifically set for when you are there.

Though getting that gym motivation isn’t always the easiest, it is a great stress reliever for college students. With these wellness tips from GradGuard, you will be on your way to a healthier, less-stressed you!