The Wall Street Journal recently published a story detailing the rise of tuition insurance, which is becoming more popular as college costs soar.
Rising tuition costs mean that for many families, a college education will be the biggest financial investment they make, next to their home. This may be why tuition insurance continues to grow in popularity, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Tuition insurance protects families in the event that the student needs to drop out mid-semester. Most colleges offer reimbursement but if a student drops out after a certain point they just lose their payment altogether – and if they paid for it with student loans, they’re on the hook for that debt. For most schools, this cut-off is sometime before the second half of the semester.
John Fees, co-founder and CEO of GradGuard, a company that sells tuition insurance, told The Wall Street Journal that his company sold 20,000 policies five years ago. Now, that figure has risen to 70,000. He said this is largely due to the increasing cost of college tuition and that families simply can’t afford to lose tens of thousands of dollars.
After all, the average yearly cost to attend a four-year private college is $34,740 – with the average student loan debt per borrower being $27,975 after graduation. In comparison, tuition insurance costs roughly one percent of tuition.
Increasingly, schools are beginning to work with insurers and offer this service to families when they pay their tuition bill. Rising mental health issues among college students may also contribute to the growing demand for tuition insurance. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, up to a quarter of all college students at elite schools are considered disabled due to mental health issues like anxiety or depression.
Carmen Duarte, a spokesperson for A.W.G. Dewar, Inc., which offers tuition insurance policies, told The Wall Street Journal that tuition reimbursement claims have remained steady for physical illnesses but have increased for mental health issues. She said that her company sold most of its policies to first-year families.
However, not everyone agrees that tuition insurance is necessary. One financial advisor told The Wall Street Journal she doesn’t usually recommend that her clients purchase tuition insurance. But she does advise her clients to be aware of the school’s deadline for reimbursement, especially if the student has mental health issues or is going away to school for the first time.
For families who think it would be beneficial, applying for tuition insurance is pretty straightforward. These plans will not cover students who drop out due to academic reasons but do typically cover medical reasons. And insurance plans don’t typically ask about pre-existing conditions. Students should make sure they understand the terms of their policy before signing up.