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5 Things You Have to Have for Study Abroad

August 23, 2012

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Believe it or not, summer is almost over and it’s time to start thinking about what you need to get before heading back to college in a few short weeks. Being a junior, you’re probably thinking that this will be easy as pie seeing as you have gone through the routine for two years already. But for many students, junior year will bring something that they have never encountered before: study abroad. Packing to study abroad is a lot different than just packing for going back to school. For one thing, you can’t bring your whole wardrobe on a plane with you (unless you’re really good at packing). So to get you started, here are the top five things that you have to bring with you when you head off to study abroad this junior year:

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The Best Locations for Studying Abroad Over the Summer

June 5, 2012

Stonehenge (VII)

While spending a semester abroad can be an amazing experience, summer is an equally fun and rewarding time to go abroad.  It can also be the perfect solution if your work schedule and course load make going abroad for a whole semester unfeasible.  Summer programs vary greatly—with some you’ll take a class or two, others are internship-oriented, and some are focused on volunteer work.  Whatever your preference, one decision you will definitely have to make is where to go.  So what are the best locations for studying abroad in the summer?

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Studying Abroad: Risks to Consider and How to Remain Safe

May 29, 2012

The chance to study abroad can be one of the most fulfilling opportunities awarded to you while attending college. Living and learning within the confines of another culture can be a great experience: an opportunity to meet new people, discover new customs, and learn about yourself.

This being said, living abroad does not come risk-free. With the recent tragedy involving Boston University students studying abroad in New Zealand andvily publicized Italian trial of American student Amanda Knox a few years ago, the dangers of studying and living abroad are very real and present. While not reason enough to forgo studying abroad, these examples fuel the necessity for thinking through the challenges you may face and outlining courses of action to confront any problems smoothly and efficiently should they arise.

Challenge 1: Living with a Host Family

Living with a host family can be a wonderful part of your study abroad experience. By living with a host family, you can gain a better understanding of local cultures and customs, and if you are studying abroad in a nation in which the official language is not your first language, living with a host family can be an integral part of strengthening your language skills. Keeping this in mind, living with a host family can serve as one of the most challenging aspects of living and studying abroad. Firstly, remember that respect is the most critical key to making your living experience positive. Keep in mind that the family’s house is their home, not a hotel or a dorm. Keeping this in mind can ease a lot of tensions.

Additionally, don’t be afraid to speak up! Host families volunteer to house students because they wish to do so; taking an interest in your host family members and interacting with them can only be a positive experience. Adding to this, don’t be afraid to speak up to your host family if something is not going well for you or if you are having an issue. In most cases, the host family will be more than happy to guide you to the proper resources to address your needs.

Challenge 2: Lack of Familiarity with Differing Laws

Every country has different laws and customs in place, and this is one area where it is hazardous to make assumptions. Before departure, be sure to familiarize yourself with the major laws and customs of the place you are studying. If you are studying abroad with your college, many schools have pre-departure meetings and written guides that explore local laws and customs. Be sure to read and listen carefully to any explanation of these. If you are going abroad alone or your school does not provide these materials, it is in your best interest to invest some time on the internet and do some research. Additionally, be sure to know where the nearest embassy of your nationality is (a list of United States embassies can be found here.)  This can prove imperative if you encounter a significant issue or come across problems with documentation.

Challenge 3: Security and Documentation

Planning ahead is a significant way to avoid challenges when studying and living abroad. Make sure to apply for the documentation and visas required of you well in advance; also, make sure you understand the rules and conditions for whatever status you are granted before entering the country. From a financial standpoint, try to check into potential fees your credit card company or bank may charge from making overseas withdrawals and charges and explore your options before departure. Also, remember that many renters insurance plans travel with you when abroad, which can provide a safety net against a variety of problems that could occur. Lastly, always use common sense. Knowing yourself and being aware of your surroundings can be the most powerful tool in keeping you safe while abroad.

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Top 5 Spring Break Destinations: Rewards and Risks

March 2, 2012
Top 5 Spring Break Spots

For many of us, Spring Break is right around the corner. We’re pushing through these last couple of days or weeks of assignments, meetings, and internships so that we can feel the wind in our hair and be free for an entire week.

Whether you’re still searching for a destination or just want to see if your Spring Break location made the cut for the top five, we’ve got the top 2013 Spring Break destination spots for you with all of the details. Check it out!

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Parents and Students Should Take Insurance Inventory

September 2, 2010

People think of insurance as most important to someone at midlife, with a home and family to protect. In fact, insurance is something that college students should inventory with help from their parents.  Even seemingly small events – like a stolen laptop or mono – can impact a family’s financial well-being and a student’s academic success.

GradGuard recommends college parents and students take an inventory of the insurance that may help them reduce the harm that results from real risks surrounding college life.

Renters: Students living on- or off-campus can protect their personal items like computers, bikes, jewelry and other valuables with an inexpensive renters policy that covers theft, fire and weather-related destruction. Although parents’ homeowners policies may offer coverage for student renters, they typically carry a high deductible and may have coverage limitations for part-time students. GradGuard’s renters insurance not only includes personal property protection with replacement cost but also provides personal liability coverage. The average cost is less than $150/year, including up to $10,000 property coverage, $50,000 in personal liability and a $100 deductible. (www.GradGuard.com/renters)

Tuition: According to a 2009 study by Student Monitor, 27 percent of students had to, or knew someone who had to, withdraw from college mid-semester due to health issues or a death in the family. Until now, tuition insurance was typically available only at select private colleges and universities, and many school’s refund policies only cover withdrawals within the first five weeks of the semester.  GradGuard’s tuition insurance program (www.GradGuard.com/tuition) provides up to $50,000 of annual tuition insurance for the non-refunded financial loss associated with the cost of attending college. The GradGuard plan is available to students nationwide and covers verifiable losses connected to the cost of attendance.  This includes not only the loss of non-refunded tuition payments, but also academic fees,  student housing, books, and travel to and from the academic program. Rates start at $29.00 for $10,000 of coverage.

Health: A 2009 eHealth research study found that only “three in five (60%) college students are currently covered either by their parents’ health insurance plan or a health insurance plan paid for by their parents.”   Until now, the remaining students, particularly the more than 6.5 million students attending two-year or community colleges, have had few relevant alternatives to address the financial risk associated with student accident and illness. The GradGuard™ Student Health Plan (www.GradGuard.com/health) provides broader accident and sickness benefits than many limited coverage school sponsored policies.  The GradGuard Student Health Plan, also available through eHealth, includes tuition refund insurance, and is the only plan of its kind available nationwide to any student attending any accredited college or university.  The annual cost ranges from $1464 to $1848 depending on the deductible.

Identity Theft Protection & Resolution: According to the 2010 Identity Fraud Survey Report released by Javelin Strategy and Research, more than 11 million people became victims of identity theft in 2009. Young adults aged 18-24 took the longest to detect identity theft —132 days on average — when compared to other age groups. Subsequently, the average cost ($1,156) was roughly five times more than amounts lost by other age groups. An Identity Theft Protection & Resolution plan, like the one included in GradGuard’s Student Protection Plan, helps protect against certain types of identity theft and aids in the resolution if one becomes a victim.  The cost of this coverage is included in GradGuard’s tuition insurance plan.

Emergency Medical Evacuation: Emergency medical evacuation is important for any student living away from home or studying abroad. If a student becomes seriously ill or has an accident while on spring break or studying abroad this type of insurance will help bring the student home or to the nearest medical facility near home.

This inventory can be helpful to all college families as well as any person evaluating how to mitigate the risks facing their lives.

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GradGuard & College Parents of America Launch Student Protection Plan

April 26, 2010

GradGuard was excited to announce in a press release it will be working with College Parents of America to launch the Student Protection Plan, featuring tuition refund insurance and other insurance benefits to protect students from potential losses. The conjoined efforts of College Parents of America and GradGuard promises to bring a multitude of insurance coverages and benefits necessary for students to succeed.

College Board estimates the sicker price for tuition and room & board at a public university to be $15,213 and a private university to cost approximately $35,636. GradGuard offers tuition refund insurance to protect this great investment. The tuition insurance is underwritten by Markel Insurance, an “A” Rated (Excellent) company according to A.M. Best. As families invest more an more in their child’s education this type of insurance is becoming a greater necessity. Should a student need to withdraw for medical or mental health reasons, GradGuard’s tuition insurance helps to protect families non-refundable losses.

A key type of insurance promoted by this partnership is the Student Protection Plan. The Student Protection Plan offers coverage for identity theft, emergency medical evacuation, small gadget theft, physical and virus damage to your PC, and an extended warranty coverage. The plan is embedded in the $299 membership to College Parents of America and premium GradGuard Tuition Insurance Policies. If purchased separately these coverages would cost families hundreds of dollars, bundling them together GradGuard offers coverage at an affordable rate.

“We developed our GradGuard Student Protection Plan to help students and their parents address many of the concerns that families confront as the school year starts and progresses”

-Bill Suneson, managing partner

GradGuard is on a mission is to protect the many aspects of the young collegiate lifestyle. GradGuard’s Student Health Insurance, Tuition Insurance, Travel Insurance and Student Protection Plan offer many ways to insure most every part of a college career. Protecting these important parts of a student’s life allow him or her to focus on classes and student activities.

GradGuard is working hard to support and protect all aspects of the college student’s lifestyle. For a free quote please visit the GradGuard website at: www.gradguard.com.

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GradGuard Launches Student Protection Plan for College Market

April 19, 2010

April 19, 2010, Boston, MA, – GradGuard, a service of Next Generation Insurance Group, LLC (NGI Group), has joined forces with College Parents of America to launch the Student Protection Plan, featuring tuition refund insurance and other collegiate lifestyle insurance benefits intended to support and protect college students on a successful path to achievement in school.

The announcement was made jointly by William Suneson, managing partner, NGI Group and James Boyle, president, College Parents of America, a national membership organization of current and future college parents.

“College students face several risks including illness or disability which could force them to withdraw from school, travel related losses, increasing Identity Theft exposure and theft of their many personal gadgets;” said Suneson “We developed our GradGuard Student Protection Plan to help students and their parents address many of the concerns that families confront as the school year starts and progresses,”. According to Suneson, the Student Protection Plan features $15,000 of annual tuition refund insurance coverage and includes:

-Identity Theft Protection and Resolution Services -Warranty Extension
-Emergency Medical Evacuation Insurance
-Physical and Virus Damage Protection for a Personal Computer
-Small Gadget Theft Insurance

“If purchased separately, these benefits could cost a family hundreds of dollars”,” said Suneson, who spearheaded NGI’s efforts to put together this cost-efficient bundle. “We are pleased to be able to work with College Parents of America to include the Student Protection Plan as part of a new Premium Membership package in that organization.”

Suneson explained that the Student Protection Plan, which can be found at www.gradguard.com/tuition, is now automatically included in the $299 College Parents of America Premium Membership. In addition to the benefits listed above, membership in CPA also includes access to deals and discounts on college-related spending, eligibility for exclusive College Parents of America scholarships, and information and advocacy on both a national and state level.

Tuition refund insurance is a new product from GradGuard, underwritten by Markel Insurance, an “A” Rated” (Excellent) company according to industry watcher A.M. Best. Recognizing that families are making a significant investment in higher education, tuition refund insurance is intended to help families protect their investment by allowing them to recover the loss that results if their student is forced to withdraw from school for medical or mental health reasons.

“Not only has tuition risen dramatically in the past 10 years, but school refund policies have, at the same time, grown much stricter,” said College Parents of America’s Boyle. “A typical situation is that parents are not able to recover any money if their student is forced to withdraw more than four weeks into a semester.”

Boyle added that, with The College Board reporting an average sticker price for tuition and room & board at a public university of $15,213, and the average such price at a private college of $35,636, he believes that GradGuard and College Parents of America have created a critical and much-needed way for families to protect the potential loss from such a massive family expenditure.

GradGuard
GradGuard is a service of Next Generation Insurance Group, LLC (NGI). Founded by veteran collegiate, affinity and insurance marketing executives, NGI has established the collegiate industry’s first comprehensive, integrated insurance and lifestyle benefits solution. GradGuard’s mission is to provide peace of mind while identifying the best insurance and benefit alternatives for college students, recent graduates, young adults and their families. For more information, visit www.gradguard.com or call 877-556-3984.

College Parents of America
College Parent of America is the nation’s only membership organization of current and future college parents. Founded in 1997, its mission is to help parents understand, prepare for, protect and maximize their family’s college investment. College Parents of America fulfills its mission by providing its members with special offers, such as Tuition Insurance; a premium membership option, including the Student Protection Plan; timely information; and advocacy on both a national and state level. For more information, visit www.collegeparents.org or call 888-761-6702.