As any parent with a child in college knows, all colleges have chosen different options for opening (or not opening) this fall.

Many colleges originally planning to bring students back to campus for the fall semester switched to online-only instruction because of Covid-19. Smith College, Mount Holyoke College and Berklee College of Music, among other institutions, announced that they will not reopen for in-person instruction during the fall 2020 semester.

However, other schools simply delayed the start of the school year: The University of Maryland, Brown University, Miami University in Ohio, Illinois State University, the University of California-Merced and others delayed in-person start dates. Some colleges plan to invite students back to campus in October at the earliest, according to the website Inside Higher Ed

However, despite Covid-19 concerns, many colleges and universities opened doors for on-campus learning this semester—on time—and the inevitable has happened: Students have spread the virus despite mask requirements, rules against large group gatherings and other restrictions. 

College And University Response
On September 14, the University of Arizona in Tucson, along with the local health department in Pima County, Arizona, recommended students on campus and near campus shelter in place for 14 days because of a rising number of Covid-19 cases. (Students can travel to certain activities like essential in-person classes and purchase necessities like food or medication that can’t be delivered.) 

Some colleges and universities quickly turned to quarantining and restricting movements of students. Some have gone as far as expelling students for not following Covid-19 safety guidelines. Others are contemplating closing campuses and moving online.

The takeaway: The first full semester of “College in the Era of Covid” is a work in progress. Policies and procedures for how schools manage tuition and fee levels and things like refunds are not entirely set in stone. The procedures for safety and rules for handling infractions vary widely from school to school, as do policies for how to handle discipline when rules are broken. 

In addition, all colleges and universities have different refund policies, and in some circumstances, families may not see a refund at all. About 85% of parents and students in an Ipsos poll for Allianz Global Assistance said they would be hurt financially if there were no refund at all.

College Refund Policies
So what refund policies exist? 

When a student withdraws, college refund policies are different than they would be in cases of a student’s expulsion (for not following Covid rules, for instance). The policies generally follow these guidelines:

• 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. 

Most schools are developing policies as the semester unfolds, which can lead to a sense of unfairness felt by students and families. But universities maintaining some aspects of a residential experience are walking a fine line, trying to keep their communities safe but also trying to balance that by being flexible with college students who, in normal situations, usually push the rules.

Tuition Insurance To The Rescue?
Tuition insurance, also known as tuition refund insurance, provides refunds for students withdrawing from school for medical reasons. But it doesn’t apply if a student leaves for academic reasons or for disciplinary reasons (like expulsion) or because they can’t afford the costs. 

Because students who withdraw in the middle of or late in the semester may not receive any tuition reimbursement at all, tuition insurance can handle the amount not covered. It can also cover the room and board fees excluded from college refund policies. 

First « 1 2 » Next