Thousands of college students are sidelined with swine flu, a rotten way to start a semester that should be full of football games, parties and, oh yeah, learning.
Many sick students are being quarantined in their rooms or special dorms, and they should be back in class in a week or two. But some will lose the semester, and a lot of money for tuition, room and board.
Those students and their families may kick themselves for passing up a relatively cheap solution — tuition insurance.
Families saving for college might do well to include money for this insurance in their savings calculations.
Also called “tuition refund insurance,” these policies make up all or most of the difference between what the family has paid and what the college reimburses for students forced to withdraw for medical reasons. (Policies are also available for private K-12 schools, not only covering refunds for medical reasons but if a parent loses a job or the child must be withdrawn because a job transfer forces a move.)
College policies are typically offered as an option through the school, and cost between 1% and 2% of the amount covered.
Colleges typically make refunds on a sliding scale. Vassar College, for example, refunds 100% if a student withdraws for medical reasons before the semester begins, but it reimburses only 90% if the withdrawal occurs during the first week. After six weeks, there is no refund.
But Vassar offers a $410-per-year insurance policy that, in combination with Vassar’s refund policy, assures families will get back 80% of the loss.
At Kenyon College, the insurance program leaves no shortfall at all, leaving the family with a 100% refund even if the student doesn’t withdraw until after the fifth week, when the college refunds nothing.