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college tuition insurance

Student Life

Why Tuition Insurance is an Essential Consideration for College Families

July 19, 2021

For many college families, the expense of higher education is one of the largest investments they will ever make. With so much money at stake, it’s important for college parents to make  a plan for the unexpected, in case their student is forced to withdraw from school due to a severe injury or illness. 

What is Tuition Insurance?

For most of the 20 million college students and their families, the financial loss of an entire semester of college is a burden big enough to break the bank. Tens of thousands of dollars are on the line and college families are smart to consider purchasing tuition insurance before the start of the semester. Tuition Insurance provides a refund for tuition, room and board, and academic fees when schools may not in the event of a covered medical withdrawal. It’s not drop out insurance and students must completely withdraw from classes due to a covered injury or illness. 

College is a fun time to meet new people, create memorable experiences, and of course, learn. That’s not to say it doesn’t come without risks. Knowing some of the biggest financial risks will prepare you for the unexpected. 

Tuition Insurance: What’s Covered?

Tuition insurance may not have been essential for all families to consider 30 years ago, when college was more widely affordable and school refunds were more generous. But things have changed. Given the high cost of college and less generous refund policies, tuition insurance is an important benefit that colleges and universities can offer to protect their students. 

Coverage for Major Injuries and Illnesses, Including Covid-19

Even before the pandemic, ordinary medical conditions, not just Covid-19, are a source of large financial losses for both students and schools. GradGuard is the only major provider in the country to cover withdrawals due to becoming ill with Covid-19. 

The 2020 National Student Health Assessment from the American College Health Association data reveals some of the ordinary risks college students and their families face today, and the impact it has on degree completion:

  • Concussion: 2.2% 
  • Mononucleosis (mono): 56.9%
  • Stress: 43.7%
  • Death of a friend/family member: 40.5%
  • Influenza (flu) or flu-like illness: 50:4%
  • Orthopedic injury (broken bone, fracture, sprain, etc): 2.5%
  • Cold/virus or other respiratory illness: 42.1%

Many students arrive at college with on-going and chronic conditions that may interfere with their studies, such as anxiety and depression. GradGuard’s Tuition Insurance covers controlled pre-existing conditions for students who are medically cleared to attend school. 

Mental Health Coverage Included

Last fall, college families and experts alike were most worried about students becoming ill with Covid-19. This year, the focus is on how the pandemic has greatly impacted the mental health and wellbeing of college students. 

GradGuard became the first and only program in the country to cover mental health as a condition. The growth in student mental health concerns looms as another risk to the investments families make when paying for college. 

Among the troubling trends:
  • 2020 report by the American College Health Association found more than half of nearly 9,000 students surveyed experienced anxiety or depression
  • A nationwide study published by the Journal of Adolescent Health found that rates of moderate to severe anxiety and depression among U.S. college students rose substantially over the last few years — from 18% and 23%, to 34% and 41%, respectively.
  • 2020 survey by the American Council on Education found 68% of college and university presidents say student mental health and well-being is top concern

Room and Board and Academic Fees are Also Covered

Tuition Insurance covers more than just the cost of tuition. GradGuard’s plans can also cover room and board and academic fees. Most higher education institutions only provide a partial refund of tuition during the first five weeks of a semester, and virtually no schools provide refunds for academic fees or housing. 

Conclusion

More than 20 million college students are getting ready to head to campus in the fall. After an extraordinarily challenging year due to the pandemic, families are looking for ways to protect their investment from the unexpected. 

By working with more than 400 colleges and universities nationwide, GradGuard is able to offer students and their families comprehensive and affordable coverage for up to 100% of the cost of college including student housing, tuition and academic fees. Each policy also includes Student Life Assistance, which helps families through the logistics that may accompany an unexpected student withdrawal. GradGuard’s mission is all about helping more students graduate. With Tuition Insurance, students who are forced to withdraw are given the rare opportunity for a do-over

Major or chronic illnesses, accidents and injuries happen frequently, even to young and healthy college students. The good news is that college families can protect their investment in higher education by purchasing tuition insurance. Visit GradGuard.com/Tuition to see the plans available on your campus. 

Terms, conditions, and exclusions apply. Plan(s) underwritten by BCS Insurance Company or Jefferson Insurance Company. AGA Service Company is the licensed producer and administrator of these plans. Plans include insurance benefits and assistance services. Contact AGA Service Company at 800-284-8300 or 9950 Mayland Drive, Richmond, VA 23233 or customerservice@allianzassistance.com.

Student Life

Testimonial: Tuition Insurance Can Give You a Do Over for College

December 8, 2020

Most colleges and universities don’t provide full refunds for tuition and academic fees. It’s something many students and families don’t find out about until after it’s too late, and their investment in college is lost. That’s how GradGuard’s Tuition Insurance can help in the event of an unexpected medical withdrawal.

Kara first learned about GradGuard’s Tuition Insurance when her son, Andrew, was an incoming freshman at Marist College. She said she wanted to make sure that if anything were to happen that was one of the covered reasons, their big investment in his education wouldn’t be lost. Marist is one of the nearly 400 colleges and universities that rely on GradGuard to protect students from preventable financial losses.

College students and families are smart to have GradGuard

Looking ahead, Kara and Andrew’s decision to purchase tuition insurance was smart. She said her son struggled a little bit the first semester.

“When he went back in the beginning of the spring semester, it became clear that he was not going to be successful, for a variety of mental health issues,” Kara said. “Our first priority was to bring him home, which we did.”

Andrew completed a medical withdraw from school. It was early in the semester, so the family was able to get a partial refund from the school. Then they contacted GradGuard and filed a claim for the balance.

GradGuard provides a refund when schools may not

“The amount that we paid at the beginning of the semester, minus what the school refunded — we got every other cent back from GradGuard,” Kara said. “We were thrilled. That money is for him to pursue his education when he’s ready.”

GradGuard was able to give this family the opportunity for a do over. That’s not something that happens a lot, let alone in college. But when the unexpected happens, GradGuard can help you get back on track. Learn more about how to buy Tuition Insurance for your school using GradGuard’s college search tool.

Questions to ask your college or university:

What will happen to my tuition payment if my college student is forced to withdraw from school due to an illness or even COVID-19?

What is the school’s refund policy?

Do you offer tuition insurance?

Student Life

Forbes Spotlights Value of Tuition Insurance

November 17, 2020

The impact of the Coronavirus on the operations of colleges and universities has focused attention by students and families on the refund policies of schools. With families investing more than $300 billion annually in college expenses, it’s not surprising that Forbes recently published an article explaining how tuition insurance can provide a refund when a school may not.

Tuition insurance may not have been essential 30 years ago, when college was more widely affordable and school refunds were more generous. Today, however, given both the high cost of tuition and less generous refund policies of schools, it’s an important benefit that colleges and universities can offer to protect their students.

When combined with trends in student health conditions, tuition insurance is also an essential consideration for families worried about their student’s chronic health conditions or potential vulnerabilities.   

Less Generous College Refund Policies

If a student needs to leave school, it’s more than likely that the institution will only provide a prorated refund through the first few weeks of school. Refunds for room and board and academic fees are even more unlikely to happen. 

Forbes personal finance journalist, Cameron Huddleston, recently interviewed John Fees, the CEO and co-founder of GradGuard about the importance of knowing a school’s refund policy.

“Typically, this is only a refund of tuition through the first five weeks of classes,” Fees said. 

A 2019 benchmark study conducted by HigherEdStudy for GradGuard found that only 6% of schools reported providing a 100% refund of tuition—down from 23% in 2015. None of the public colleges surveyed provide full refunds and nearly half of the schools don’t provide any refund for student fees and academic fees. 

Source: Forbes, Tuition Insurance Rescues Lost College Deposits And Payments. Data: GradGuard, Benchmark Study: 2019 Trends & Common Practices for Managing Student Withdrawals & Tuition Refunds

Growth in Student Medical Conditions 

A 2019 national benchmark study of colleges and universities revealed student medical withdrawals are also on the rise.  In fact, 70% of schools surveyed reported a growth in student medical withdrawals – up from just 42% in 2015.

In addition, the American College Health Association’s annual research report on student medical conditions also confirms the value of  tuition insurance.  The complete report includes even more dramatic increases in mental health conditions that may disrupt a students semester. 

GradGuard’s tuition insurance covers an unexpected withdrawal due to a covered illness, injury, or other covered reason. This chart below demonstrates the impact of health conditions that can also create a financial loss for families. 

Four common student illnesses including concussions and mono have a big impact on degree completion

How Colleges and Universities Benefit

Given the growing media interest by Forbes and other publications, schools are smart to provide their students the opportunity to protect their investment in college. There are multiple benefits to schools who offer GradGuard’s tuition insurance to each of their students including:

  • Help assure that students who have to leave school for a medical reason can afford to return to campus when they are healthy enough to do so.
  • Demonstrate to students that they can receive a payment for the potential financial loss that may result from withdrawing from an academic term due to covered reasons such as medical conditions.
  • Provide a more affordable product with expanded coverage that meets the needs of the school and student.
  • Reduce collections issues from students who leave school by providing the school a payment for any outstanding balance of an insured student.

Lastly, schools are smart to offer GradGuard’s tuition insurance because it will enable them to have an answer to students and parents who may ask them for it. The attention from the Forbes article, ‘Tuition Insurance Rescues Lost College Deposits and Payments’ will certainly lead to more questions from students and families looking to protect their investment in college.

Other Safety

Top 3 Reasons College Tuition Insurance Is a Smart Decision

July 13, 2020

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 and needs to completely withdraw from the university due to a covered reason.
  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 first week of classes. Be sure to check with your school to see what their refund 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 mental health conditions 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/tuition to see the plans available on your campus!

Adulting Other

The College-Bound Guide to Insurance: Be Sure You’re Protected as You Head Off to School

June 26, 2020

College students need a lot of supplies for college life. From bedding to electronics to school supplies, the costs can add up. In 2017, families spent as much as a mortgage payment or more on school supplies and that’s not counting tuition!

Is your college investment protected? Certain insurance products can help your family protect what you’ve invested in your student’s college experience, from personal property, to the cost of a trip to the campus health center during flu season.

In The Residence Halls

You’re probably bringing a laptop, smartphone, tablet, TV, speakers, dorm decor, clothes, and school supplies with you to college. Maybe you’ll even bring a bike or some furniture. The cost of these belongings can add up – what would you do if they all needed to be replaced due to a fire on campus? Or if your big-ticket items, like your laptop or bike were stolen – could you afford to replace them? Insurance can help you and your family protect your belongings if you face a loss or damage because of a covered reason, like theft, fire or water damage.

There are two primary types of insurance that can help you and your family protect your belongings while you’re at school: homeowners and renters insurance. If your parents have a homeowners insurance policy, you may already be covered, but be sure to check the specifics of the policy. Many homeowners policies will only cover full-time students living on campus, and often at a percentage (usually 10%) of the policy limits. Be sure to take into consideration the deductible, as well as a claim’s effect on the premium. Renters insurance can be a good alternative in these areas, as renters plans typically feature low deductibles and often low monthly rates.

To make the most of your insurance protection, you should create a home inventory of everything you’ve brought with you to school and how much it cost. Taking photos and carefully taking a record of everything you have will make it much easier to determine what has faced a loss if you need to make a claim. The total cost could surprise you, and knowing how much all of your stuff is worth can help you determine whether 10% of your homeowners limits or the limits you chose on your renters insurance policy are adequate protection.

The New York Insurance Association recommends that students ensure they have adequate insurance protection as well as taking a common-sense approach to protecting their valuables. They offer these tips to help students be mindful of their belongings:

  • Leave valuables at home if possible – While it may be necessary to take a computer or sports equipment to campus, other expensive items, such as valuable jewelry, luxury watches or costly electronics, should be left behind.
  • Mark your electronics – Label electronic items such as computers, televisions and portable devices like iPods with the student’s name or other identifying information that can help police track the stolen articles.
  • Always lock your room door and keep your keys with you at all times, even if you leave briefly. And not just at night—most residence hall thefts occur during the day. Insist your roommates do the same.
  • Do not leave belongings unattended on campus. Whether you are in class, the library, the dining hall or other public areas, keep book bags, purses and laptops with you at all times. These are the primary areas where property theft occurs.

Health

Newfound independence, the stress of classes, dining hall food, all-nighters, community living, partying – the college lifestyle, if unchecked, can take its toll on students’ health. Many schools require that students have health insurance, and for good reason: it can help protect students and their families from the high costs of medical treatments in the case of an injury or illness, like a sports injury during an intramural game or a case of mono.

Many schools offer students a health insurance plan, but often the most inexpensive option is for students to remain on their parent’s plan. Under health care law, young adults are allowed to remain on their parents’ plans until the age of 26. Check with your parents to see if their plan may be an option or speak with a licensed insurance agent to see what’s available to you.

In addition to health insurance, there are many ways students can take control of their well-being throughout the semester by setting time aside to eat well, exercise and manage stress:

  • Eat right. There’s a lot of temptation in the dining halls, but adding a side salad and ensuring that you get protein and vegetables and fruits each day will go a long way to giving your body the vitamins and nutrients it needs. It is important to maintain a varied diet and stay away from eating the same bowl of cereal for dinner everyday.
  • Stay hydrated. Swap sugary drinks for water. Getting 8 glasses a day can help fend off fatigue and keep you feeling good. It can be helpful to carry a water bottle such as a Hydro Flask with you to avoid becoming dehydrated during class.
  • Get sleep. It can be difficult to get enough sleep when there are so many deadlines, due dates, and social events, but you should do your best to get in bed at a reasonable hour and if not, take a nap during the day. Sleep helps your immune system and can help you retain information, so you’re not studying in vain!
  • Manage your stress. College comes with an inevitable amount of stress, but setting aside time to deal with it will make it much easier. Exercise, taking time to relax, reading a book for fun or setting aside an hour to catch up on your favorite show each week will help you unwind and appreciate the many opportunities college presents. If the stress of college life is too much, there are many resources on campus that you can turn too. Don’t wait until it’s too late.
  • Get moving. Exercise is an important part of a balanced lifestyle, and not only will it help you stay healthy, but it will also make you feel good too. Exercise for at least 30 minutes several times a week and try to walk as much as possible. Getting your blood pumping will relieve stress and help you study smarter. Your school may even offer fun classes such as spin or yoga which you can attend with your friends.

Tuition

Perhaps the largest expense of all, more than airfare, a laptop, gas or a flu shot, is tuition for many families. Luckily, this too can be protected by insurance. Tuition insurance can help refund lost tuition if a student should be forced to completely withdraw from school due to a covered reason. Many schools do not refund most tuition after the first couple weeks of the semester, which could leave many college families vulnerable. Be sure to check your school’s refund policy, which you should be able to find on their website, and consider whether you need more protection than it affords.

Travel

Whether it’s traveling to campus from home, traveling to study abroad, or bringing a car to campus, insurance can help protect students from costs that may arise if things don’t go according to plan, like a health issue abroad, a canceled flight or fender bender while at school. Depending on your situation, you may want to consider insurance protection.

Car insurance is required if you bring a car to school. Look for a plan that gives you adequate coverage, though you may have to spend more to get more coverage, it will minimize your exposure. Speak with an agent about what coverages are right for your vehicle. Don’t forget to ask if you qualify for a “good student” discount – you could save 5-15%!

Depending on how far away from home your school is or where you travel to during the school year, travel insurance could be beneficial to you and your family. Travel insurance has different levels of features that you can customize for your trip. Most people think of travel insurance as just covering airline ticket reimbursements in case something goes wrong, but it can also protect you financially if you lose your luggage or need to be airlifted to better healthcare, depending on the plan you select.

Insurance can help college students and their families protect their investment in education. Some of these protections may be beneficial to your family, while some may not. It depends on your situation and risk tolerance. If you have questions regarding your insurance coverage for college, speak with an insurance agent for more information. Have a wonderful and safe semester!

Health Other

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.

Other Safety

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