Salem Community Patriot August 13, 2010 - 11
Parents seek ways to protect their investment in a college education
lege students withdraw from courses, Eric Weil of Student Monitor reports that in a 2009 study “nearly one-third of students either themselves ex- perienced or had a close friend who experienced a mid-semester withdrawal from college due to a medical condition or a death in their immediate family.”
One insurance product, GradGuard, offered
Soon, millions of parents will send their chil- dren off to college for the first time. As the car pulls out of the driveway, they will reflect with nostalgia as their children embark on the next adventure in their lives—while they are acutely aware of how much of an investment they are making in their education. But what if, mid-semester, your son or daughter becomes ill and has to leave school? While the student will lose ground in working toward a di- ploma, parents may lose their financial investment in that semester. Parents may mistakenly believe that colleges refund tuition in the case of unexpected illness, injury or even death. In fact, a 2010 study by College Parents of America indicates that many colleges do not refund tuition or fees after the fifth week of classes.
Although it is unclear exactly how many col-
by Next Generation Insurance Group, LLC, offers refund of tuition should a student need to leave school due to illness, disability or death. “College tuition, academic fees and room and board costs average more than $15,000 annually at a public college or university and more than $35,000 at a private institution,” says John Fees, co-founder and CEO of Next Generation Insurance Group, LLC. “For most families, that is a staggering investment, and until now, it was at risk if an injury, illness or death of a parent caused the student to leave school mid-semester. Tuition insurance protects against the loss of that investment.” With rising costs of college and tightening fam- ily budgets, James A. Boyle, president of College Parents of America, believes there is great need for tuition refund insurance. “Not only has tuition risen dramatically in the past 10 years, but the risks facing college students that threaten their ability to complete a semester or an academic year have increased as well,” says Boyle. “College tuition refund policies have grown stricter, so typi- cally, parents are not able to recover their money if their student is forced to withdraw more than
College-bound? Do your homework on insurance
If you or your child is college-bound this fall, don’t forget to review your insurance. Doing your homework now could save you money and headaches in the future.
Personal property coverage Make sure the student’s possessions are protected in case of theft, fire and other damage while they’re at school. “While most items will be covered under the parents’ homeown- ers policy, you can’t assume Mom and Dad’s policy will completely cover a college-bound son or daughter—especially if they own expensive, high-tech electronics,” says Charles Valinotti, senior vice president of QBE Regional Insurance. Because insurance companies vary in their definitions of who and
what is covered, Valinotti recommends talking with your insurance agent to determine the best solution for your family. Here are three questions to ask: 1. Is your daughter considered a “resident of the household” un-
der your policy, even though she’s moving out of your house? Typi- cally the answer is “yes” if she’s residing in a dorm or other student housing and you can claim her on your taxes. 2. Is your son’s dorm an “insured location” under your policy? Most standard policies cover 10 percent of your contents value for items located at another insured residence. For example, if your home is insured for $200,000, your contents coverage may be $150,000; thus, you’d have $15,000 of coverage for the possessions in your son’s dorm. If that’s not enough to replace his things in case of a total loss, you may want to increase the contents coverage on your homeowners policy. 3. If your daughter gets married or your son drops to part-time stu- dent status and continues to reside away from your home, how does it affect their insurance coverage? Chances are, they’ll no longer be covered under their parents’ policy and will require renter’s insur- ance to protect their possessions.
Vehicle coverage There’s potential to save money on your auto insurance if your student is taking her car to school with her—or even if she’s not. * Make sure policies are up to date with the student’s current
school address. You may benefit if she takes her car to an area with lower rates.
* Look into discounts if the student leaves his car at home. If his dorm is more than 100 miles from your driveway, where the car is kept, you may be eligible for discounts. * If your student leaves his car at home and won’t be using it while
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he’s in school, consider reducing coverage or changing his driving status from primary use to occasional use. This will cut your rates. * Remember, your insurance company’s good student discount
may apply for college students, too. For example, General Casualty and Unigard offer a Good Student Discount to full-time students who are less than 25 years old. “When a member of your family goes off to college, that’s a sig- nificant change to your household, and it’s important to notify your insurance agent,” Valinotti says.
- Courtesy of ARAcontent
five weeks into the semester for medical reasons including sickness, mental health or disability.” In the past, only a portion of the nation’s college students, attending mostly expensive private col- leges, could insure this risk. GradGuard’s tuition refund insurance program
provides up to $50,000 of annual tuition insur- ance and is available to students attending any accredited college. It covers more than just the loss of tu- ition payment, with coverage for academic fees, room and board, books and travel to/ from the academic program. According to Boyle, “Not all families need $50,000 of annual coverage, but virtually every student would likely benefit from having at least $5,000 of annual coverage. Even if your college has a generous refund policy, it is unlikely that you will ever be refunded the cost of books or room and board.” As a result, College Parents of America’s standard annual membership includes this base amount of tuition refund insurance. Tuition insurance also in- cludes benefits like emergency medical evacuation insurance,
identity theft protection and resolution services and insurance for personal computers. Keep in mind that if a student withdraws because of aca- demic failure or if they simply want to “drop out,” parents cannot expect any refund. To learn more, go to www.gradguard.com/tuition
or call (877) 556-3984.
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