The coronavirus pandemic has caused more colleges and families to consider taking out tuition insurance, but it would not have helped the students who are seeking tuition refunds for the spring’s forced transition to remote learning.

The coronavirus pandemic caused a colossal disruption in higher education. As a result, colleges and families are looking more closely at tuition insurance to protect against future uncertainties, though it would not have been much help for students who wanted tuition refunds for a spring semester that suddenly shifted online.

Just last week, six colleges contacted GradGuard, a tuition insurance company, about offering tuition insurance to students, said John Fees, co-founder and managing director of GradGuard. The company currently provides tuition insurance to students at more than 300 public and private colleges.

The insurance kicks in after college-specific refund policies are applied. For example, students withdrawing early in the semester may be eligible to receive all or most of their tuition payments back under their college’s refund policy. A student withdrawing in the middle of or late in the semester may not receive any tuition reimbursement at all. Tuition insurance helps close that gap. It can also cover room and board fees, which are excluded from many college refund policies. College refund policies vary greatly by institution.

“Tuition insurance basically provides a refund for those students who have some unexpected event happen to them,” Fees said. “Those unexpected events include illnesses like mental health illnesses or physical illnesses, injuries like concussions or accidents, substance abuse — which is a growing source of withdrawals — and all these underlying health problems that students are arriving at school with.”

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