Inside Higher Ed Showcases Growing Interest in Tuition Insurance

July 13, 2020 7:00:00 AM EDT / by Natalie Tarangioli

The Coronavirus pandemic has created a massive disruption in higher education and brought greater attention to the risks of investing in college.

GradGuard's tuition insurance is the most widely adopted remedy that schools rely on to provide a refund to students who are forced to withdraw from school due to unexpected covered events like health conditions, accidents or even the death of a tuition payer.   

This recent article by Inside Higher Ed helps illustrate why more schools than ever trust GradGuard to protect their students from preventable financial losses.

More Schools Seek to Protect Students

Tuition insurance provides a refund for students when colleges or universities may not. Though it's called tuition insurance, it's actually much more than that - it provides coverage for financial losses including student deposits and academic fees, as well as room and board.

Even before the Coronavirus, in a 2019 benchmark survey of student refund policies, 70% of schools reported they had seen a growth in student medical withdrawals.  And with the rising costs of college and the growing number of student medical withdrawals, it's not surprising that schools are now seeking ways to make sure all of their students have the opportunity to protect themselves from a financial loss. 

Inside Higher Ed interviewed John Fees, co-founder and CEO of GradGuard, for their article 'Pandemic-related uncertainty prompts students to consider tuition insurance.'

Tuition insurance can provide refunds for unexpected events that may include:

  • Mental health conditions
  • Physical illnesses 
  • Injuries like concussions or accidents
  • Substance abuse

student health conditions and academic progress

It's also important to note that taking out tuition insurance would not have helped the students who are seeking refunds for the spring's forced transition to remote learning due to the pandemic. 

"GradGuard's tuition insurance provides a refund in the case where the student completes a withdrawal from school," Fees said. "In the case of campuses changing their instruction methods, there’s no insurance that provides coverage for that. Our insurance doesn't provide it, and I'm not aware of anybody that does. That’s just a change in form, not a financial loss."

Billing Integration Makes it Easy 

At many of the colleges GradGuard is partnered with, students are able to opt-in to purchase tuition insurance in the online portal where tuition payments are made.  

Miami University in Ohio is one of GradGuard's partner schools. Bursar Kristine Cassano spoke with Emma Whitford of Inside Higher Ed about the "huge increase" in students who purchased insurance plans last year compared to the year prior. She attributed the uptick in participation to how the insurance is presented to students, via the online portal and its integration within the billing process.

According to Fees, today it's as easy for a family to protect their $30,000 investment in college with GradGuard's tuition insurance as it is to purchase travel insurance for a $300 airline ticket.  

Benefits for Colleges & Universities

Tuition insurance is also presented as a voluntary "active choice"  at Auburn University. 

Michael Reynolds, executive director of student financial services at Auburn, told Inside Higher Ed that offering students tuition insurance also provides the university with some protection. If students choose not to purchase any, they must read and agree to the university’s refund policy, which offers limited tuition refunds based on the date and reason for withdrawal.

“It’s a safeguard for me because when parents call and start complaining that they didn’t get all their money back, I have to say, ‘Your child sat in this class for this amount of days. The professor had to be paid, electricity had to be paid. And we’ve made arrangements with a company to let you purchase insurance and you opted not to,’” Reynolds told Whitford.

Given the growing media interest by Forbes, Inside Higher Ed, and other publications, schools are smart to provide their students the opportunity to protect their investment in college. 

Schools are smart to provide their students the opportunity to protect their investment in college.

Affordable Coverage

The most affordable and best way for students to protect themselves is when schools agree to enable all of their students to make an active-choice to accept or decline tuition insurance protection.  At no cost to schools, GradGuard provides an affordable product with expanded coverage that meets the needs of the school and student.

Contributing to Student Success

Schools that provide tuition insurance to their students and families also help ensure students who have to leave for a medical reason can afford to return to campus when they are healthy enough to do so. In fact, the most recent data from GradGuard's experience is that more than half of students who have had claims paid, returned to complete their degree at the same institution.

Avoid Surprises & Adversarial Collections Issues

GradGuard's billing integration also enables schools to easily disclose their refund policies. As a result, this provides "notice" to tuition payers that they may not be eligible for a refund. Without such notice, schools risk surprising families when they later tell them that their student may not be eligible for a complete refund.

In addition, GradGuard's tuition insurance also reduces collections issues from students who leave school by providing the school a payment for any outstanding balance of an insured student.  

Next Steps

Schools are smart to offer GradGuard's tuition insurance because it provides real value to their students and will enable them to have an answer to students and parents who may ask them for it.

The attention from the Inside Higher Ed article, 'Pandemic-related uncertainty prompts students to consider tuition insurance' and others will certainly lead to more questions from students and families looking to protect their investment in college.  

Learn More: GradGuard's Tuition Protection Program

Topics: Press, Tuition Insurance, tuition refunds, inside higher ed

Natalie Tarangioli

Written by Natalie Tarangioli

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