COVID-19 fears have parents, college students considering tuition insurance

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- The COVID-19 pandemic is prompting many parents to consider a new back to school supply this year: college tuition insurance. It's protection if a student contracts the novel coronavirus and needs to drop out of school for the semester..

As students head back to college campuses around the Triangle, there is no doubt COVID-19 fears are rampant, especially if a student contracts the virus.

John Fees is CEO of GradGuard, a company that offers tuition insurance. He said, "Going to college is typically the second largest investment in family's lives. They are smart to ask what the refund policy of the school is and ask the school if they provide an opportunity to protect themselves if something unexpected happens."

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GradGuard is just one company that offers tuition insurance for college students. It's insurance that covers a student that needs to drop out due to medical reasons, which now includes COVID-19.

Fees said you should first go through your college and ask the school if they provide tuition insurance--typically the cost is lower than if you get it on your own. Just to give you an idea of costs, GradGuard said their tuition insurance starts at $39.95 for $2,500 of coverage per term. Schools that provide their own coverage typically charge $106.00 per term for $10,000 in coverage. If a school does not offer tuition insurance, families can purchase coverage for about 2% of the coverage, or $200.00 for $10,000 of coverage.

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Several schools in the state offer tuition insurance, including Duke University, Appalachian State University, William Peace University and the University of Mt. Olive. Besides covering tuition, take a look to see if the policy covers other costs.

"You need insurance that will pay for housing, academic fees, and deposits," Fees said.

What tuition insurance doesn't cover is business interruption, for example, if the school chooses to move online or asks you to quarantine or to move home for online learning.

It's very important to read all of the fine print, especially when it comes to pre-existing conditions and coverage, so make sure you know what the tuition insurance policy you're looking at excludes. In most cases, you also have to buy it before classes start.

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