Increase in Student Illnesses & College Refund Policies: Highlights Emerging Risks Facing College Families

Illness shutterstock_262354961.jpgIt is mid-semester and the generous refund policies of schools have likely ended.  Unfortunately for schools and families, illnesses and injuries of students have not.  In fact, a national study from the American College Health Association reveals growing concern over the health and well-being of students.

The American College Health Association’s National College Health Assessment from 2010 – 2015 reports a dramatic growth in student reported incidents of the following illnesses:

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Families are often aware that their college student may be vulnerable to the stress of college life but it is important to note that ordinary student health problems such as mononucleosis, chronic health conditions or injuries also may force a student to withdraw from classes and cost a student and their family thousands of dollars.

Supporting a college student through an unexpected event can be stressful and it is made worse if parents are not aware of the college refund policy. A 2016 survey by College Parents of America indicates 71% of parents do not recall being informed of the university refund policy and 67% of parents surveyed indicate that they have no idea how the school would handle a refund if their student was unable to complete classes.

In fact, in a 2015 national survey of college & university bursars & health administrators, only 23% of schools reported providing 100% refunds. According to the survey, most schools only refund a portion of tuition for qualified withdrawals through the fifth week of classes and virtually no school provides a refund for the academic fees.

According to a 2016 survey from College Parents of America, for most college parents, college is the 1st or 2nd largest investment in their family financial life. As a result, it is a smart move for colleges and universities to verify that the institution’s refund policy has been disclosed to each student and to provide the opportunity for students to voluntarily elect to protect their investment with tuition insurance.

Given the potential financial loss to both institutions and families due to the increase in student health issues that may force a student to leave school mid-semester, it is important for institutions of higher education to ask three questions:

  1. How does your school disclose its refund policy to students?
  2. When did you last update your refund policy? Most schools provide a pro-rated refund thru the 5th week of classes, some have also moved to 15 days. 
  3. Do you make it convenient for students and families to enroll in tuition insurance?


 To learn more about this topic, listen to our pre-recorded webinar: Reducing Tuition Refund Appeals (click below)

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“Tuition Management Systems (TMS) is the sponsor of this post. The sources who contributed ideas to this post do not endorse or recommend any commercial products or services, including those of TMS.  All information and opinions of the contributors are provided for informational purposes only.   TMS neither endorses, has any responsibility for, nor exercises control over the views of any contributor to this article or the accuracy of the information provided by any of them.”

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