GradGuard, a tuition insurance company, currently provides tuition insurance to students at more than 300 colleges and universities. GradGuard’s plans exclude epidemics but the insurer issuing the policies, Allianz Global Assistance, announced it would cover students who had to withdraw in the spring after contracting the coronavirus.

Certain rules on pre-existing conditions exist as well. Tuition insurance policies commonly exclude the following:
• Any loss, condition or event that was known when the policy was purchased;
• Professional sports participation;
• Extreme sports (like skydiving, bungee jumping and mountain climbing); and
• Drug abuse.

Some insurance policies exclude:
• Suicide or self-inflicted injuries
• Pregnancy

Furthermore, families who purchase tuition insurance should check the policy—most do not cover for classes moving online.

Don’t forget to check the tuition insurance carrier’s Covid-19 policy. Tuition insurance is a great choice for many families—it’s applicable in the unfortunate situation that a student falls ill with coronavirus. However, don’t expect it to cover other Covid-related problems, such as when a student withdraws only from the fear of getting Covid-19.

Can Students Get Room And Board Refunds?
Most colleges that moved online this spring refunded room and board but didn’t offer tuition refunds

A number of class-action lawsuits appeared throughout the spring and summer, even against elite universities like Brown, Emory, Columbia and Georgetown, as well as major public university systems like the University of North Carolina. The students who led the outcry believed they weren’t getting the education they expected and paid for. 

Expect the same room and board refund policy if schools opt to move online later in the semester. 

Many schools have added clauses that say they do not offer refunds for room and board if the school needs to close. Others have said they may need to charge more for online classes to support the technology investments. 

Questions To Ask
It’s smart to get on the phone with a college or university representative if families have current students enrolled in college. Prospective families should also ask the following questions:

1. What is the college or university’s room and board refund policy? 
2. Is it possible to get a tuition refund if a student withdraws? What is the “sliding scale” of the refund-to-withdrawal time line?
3. What are the college or university’s current Covid-19 policies?
4. What disciplinary action occurs if a student doesn’t follow the Covid-19 policies?
5. What are the student loan options with the CARES Act?
6. Are there more options to pay for college if families’ employment situations have changed? Can the financial aid office take another look at the student’s financial aid package?
7. What are some ways students can make money in college or through off-campus jobs?

Understand It All
Covid-19 policies, refund policies, tuition insurance—it may seem like a dizzying array of new rules and not-too-clear policies. 

The best bet for most families is to understand exactly what current policy is at their students’ school and make decisions accordingly. That way, families can minimize surprises if classes move entirely online, if their student falls ill or if the student experiences disciplinary action.

Kevin Walker is the CEO and publisher of CollegeFinance.com.

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