Tuition Insurance

I’m on PTO all this week, so am bringing you some preposted content.

Today’s Daily Deac is about a program that you may not know exists, but we want you to be aware so you can make an informed choice. It’s about tuition insurance, a program we have had in place for at least 15 years.

Every year, there are students who leave Wake Forest after the semester begins. The date that a student leaves impacts the amount of refund their parents/family members receive for their tuition. If your student leaves during the fifth week of class, you only get 20% of your tuition back (see the refund policy).

No one intends to have to leave college once they start. Tuition insurance exists so that if a student has an unexpected need to withdraw due to accident, illness or mental health conditions as defined in the plan, the plan ensures up to a 75% refund throughout the term. 

Here are a few examples of reasons students have needed to withdraw from Wake in the past:

A student had been in an inpatient eating disorder treatment program over the summer prior to coming to Wake. The family and the student’s treatment providers decided that leaving home and starting college was an appropriate next step. The transition to school was more challenging than anticipated, and the student needed to withdraw to more fully attend to their mental health needs. Tuition insurance provided financial relief.

Another student experienced a concussion. They missed a couple of weeks of classes, and their symptoms only gradually improved. The concussion caused this student to delay preparation for their midterm exams, papers, and projects. Consequently their academic work suffered, and with ongoing mild cognitive symptoms it was apparent that it would take an heroic effort to salvage the semester. Fortunately, the student was able to take a medical leave from the semester to recover. Tuition insurance made this decision much easier since the financial burden would have been tremendous. (Happily, the student returned the following semester fully recovered with no ongoing symptoms and has done well academically since that time).

A student was diagnosed with mononucleosis shortly after the semester began.  Recovery was good, they were not too far behind with classwork, and professors were working with this student to catch up on the work they had missed. Unfortunately, about a month after the student recovered from mono and was finally catching up on schoolwork, they developed a reaction from a medication and had to be hospitalized, which led to several more days of missed classes right before midterm exams. This student had been counting on a strong semester to help improve their GPA, but these two illnesses created a much more difficult challenge. The student then developed stress-related symptoms, including significant anxiety. The student’s family encouraged them to take a medical leave; this decision was much easier because the family had purchased the tuition insurance.

It is important to know that Wake does not financially benefit if you opt in to tuition insurance. Wake offers this plan because we have seen situations where families are forced to choose between major financial losses and their child’s health. Those situations are extraordinarily difficult for everyone. We all share the same goal of our students’ wellbeing.

We also recently asked the tuition insurance company if COVID is covered in the plan. Philip Beattie, President of A.W.G. Dewar, Inc. (the tuition insurance provider) told us “COVID-19 is not excluded in the policy and therefore if a student is diagnosed with the virus and is forced to withdraw with doctor’s certification, it would be treated as any other illness under the policy.”

I will give the final word to Dr. Cecil Price, Director of the Student Health Service:

“I would recommend that every student purchase this insurance. In college-aged individuals, illnesses that challenge academic performance are difficult to predict. Once an illness like this occurs, students often struggle with their academic responsibilities. They often feel overwhelmed, fatigued, or depressed, which may further affect their academic performance. A major factor in the decision to continue, in my experience, is the loss of the tuition for that semester. That cost for many students is prohibitive. This insurance takes away this factor.”

You can learn more about tuition insurance here. The cost is around $450 for the academic year. Just as you might do for travel insurance with a big vacation, you can choose to opt in – or not – as meets the needs of your family. We just want everyone to know this is an option.

— by Betsy Chapman, Ph.D. (’92, MA ’94)

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