The Growing Cost of Medical Withdrawals

Medical_Insignia_shutterstock_107110223.jpgThough student medical withdrawals are infrequent, they appear to be a growing concern for institutions and the families they serve.  A 2015 survey of college officials estimated that 41% of campuses report having more than 1% of students complete a medical withdrawal a year and 59% indicating less than 1%.

Clearly student withdrawals are a costly event for everyone.  Institutions depend on the funds that students pay in tuition and fees.  Students and their families may both suffer from a medical event but should not be surprised by learning after the fact that the institution may not provide a refund.

The American College Health Association publishes data that demonstrates the trends and frequency of medical events that may disrupt a student’s education.  In the most recent report, the 2014 annual survey revealed:


Proportion of college students who reported being diagnosed or treated by a professional for any of the following health problems within the last 12 months:

                2% report being diagnosed with Mononucleosis

                2.5% report suffering an injury

                3.8% report having a chronic health condition

                6.1% report having difficulty handling the death of a family member

                6.7% report being treated for a psychiatric condition


American College Health Association, American College Health Association-National Health Assessment II:  Undergraduate Students Reference Group Executive Summary Spring 2014.  Hanover, MD:  American College Health Association 2014.

If your campus does not provide 100% refunds for medical withdrawals these medical events and the potential medical withdrawal that results can be devastating to a family.  In fact, a 2014 national survey of 800 college parents revealed that only 26% would be able to afford the financial loss / additional semester and 51.2% of students said it would be difficult or not possible to absorb the loss.

Research conducted by College Parents of America Survey in September of 2014 using a national sample of 819 participants.  Margin of error is estimated to be +/- 3.5% with a confidence level of 95%.

As students return to campus for the start of college, we like to remind our college and university partners to recommit to disclosing their refund policies to each student.   It is recommended that your institution provide notice to each student of your refund policy and also provide the opportunity for students to protect themselves from the financial loss that may result from an unexpected medical withdrawal.





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