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coronavirus

Student Life

How to Graduate Successfully During the Pandemic

October 29, 2020

The pandemic has completely changed the way our daily lives look. Very quickly, we’ve had to readjust many of our habits and daily routines that we once took for granted. So it’s no surprise that for many of us, both the present and the future appear uncertain. The pandemic has presented most people with challenges they may have never had to face before, such as forced distance, or the loss of opportunities. 

Students, in particular those approaching their date of graduation, are more prone to thinking ahead than most, as they seek to plan their next step in life. For students in this position, the uncertainty and challenges of the pandemic add another layer of stress to the prospect of graduation. However, panic is not the answer, and with a cool head and positive attitude, graduation can remains firmly on the horizon. Here are a few tips to help you ensure that the coronavirus doesn’t get in the way of you securing your hard-earned diploma! 

Stay on Top of Your Studies

Just because many campuses have shut their doors and the classroom walls can seem like a distant memory, that doesn’t mean that academic standards should be let slip! It’s important for students to stay focused on upholding the quality of their academic work so as not to lose sight of their educational goals. 

While it may not be possible to sit with teachers or peer groups in person, the internet luckily offers students many tools that allow them to keep their academic standards high even while social distancing. Students can make use of online tools to make sure the quality of their research does not slip by using a referencing site and a plagiarism checker tool. By upholding a strong sense of academic integrity, students can more easily focus their sights on that up-coming graduation date with confident single-mindedness. 

Stay Active

It’s essential to keep the mind and body sharp as ever. Continuing with your hobbies outside of the classroom will make it a lot easier to preserve a sense of normal life and lessen the likelihood that the pandemic will have a negative impact on your academic motivation. 

If the way you practice your pastimes, such as being part of a team sport or meeting with a hobby club, has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s a great opportunity to try out new things and maybe develop a new passion! Think about hobbies or skills you’ve long been meaning to take up. Seeing your progress in something outside the classroom is a great way to keep up that sense of academic motivation that will keep you plain-sailing towards graduation.

Stay Connected


In these times, when social distancing is a must, it can be easy to feel a little disconnected. To keep grounded in both your social and academic life, it’s important to stay in contact with those you care about. Use social media to reach out to friends and acquaintances, new and old. Staying connected to those around you will help keep you connected to your study goals and smoothen the path to graduation.

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.

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Money Magazine: Tuition Insurance and Coronavirus

July 28, 2020
Some college families consider tuition insurance amid the pandemic

Chances are, college is the biggest investment families will ever make next to buying a home. According to College Board, the average cost of a 4-year public university for out-of -state students in $42,970, and $26,590 for in-state students. So it’s no surprise to see the growing interest in tuition insurance amid the pandemic, as college families are looking for ways to protect their investment.

Money Magazine contributor Joanna Nesbit interviewed John Fees, co-founder of GradGuard about how tuition insurance works, what’s covered, and what’s not.

How does tuition insurance work?

GradGuard’s Tuition Insurance reimburses tuition, room and board, and academic fees if a student completes a covered medical withdrawal. Plans also cover mental health conditions – which are on the rise among students – including depression and anxiety. Untimely death of a student or tuition payer may also be covered.

It’s important for students to know there are limitations and exclusions that apply, and plans must be purchased prior to the start of classes.

What isn’t covered by tuition insurance?

GradGuard’s Tuition Insurance is not “drop-out insurance.” As stated in the Money article, student’s can’t simply decided they need to go home. They must be assessed by a licensed medical practitioner and obtain a written recommendation to withdraw. Other exclusions include injuries during amateur sports competitions, participating in a riot, or pursuing in extreme sports such as mountain climbing or bungee jumping.

Pre-existing physical or mental health conditions might be covered. Fees advises that the best thing students with pre-existing conditions should do is to obtain a doctor’s note saying they’re well enough to start college.

Can tuition insurance help protect against uncertainties caused by the coronavirus pandemic?

Epidemics and pandemics are typically excluded from most insurance policies. But until further notice, GradGuard’s plans include coverage if a student becomes ill due to COVID-19. It’s important to be aware that if campuses close, and students are sent home again like they were in the spring, tuition and housing fees would not be reimbursed by tuition insurance.

GradGuard’s Tuition Insurance also does not provide refunds due to fear of being on campus, or if the method of instruction has changed — such as moving in person classes to online.

The bottom line:

Many families may not find the need for tuition insurance, especially if their student’s school provides a generous refund policy or they can afford the cost of an unexpected extra semester in the event the student had to leave school. However, most families find it difficult to afford the extra cost and thus are smart to purchase tuition insurance, and make sure their investment is protected.

Looking to buy tuition insurance? First, ask your school if they offer it. Another easy way to find out is to use GradGuard’s College Search Tool.