SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — Most Mid-South college and universities are back in session with a mixture of in-person and online learning.
But there are still questions about what happens to your tuition if you get sick with COVID-19 and can’t finish the semester.
“You just don’t think about something like COVID-19 coming along and putting that tuition at risk,” said Tim Dunlap, Memphis parent.
Like many parents, Dunlap is taking a hard look at his investment in college tuition.
He has two sons in college – one at the University of Tennessee and the other at the University of Memphis.
Dunlap said he doesn’t have tuition insurance coverage for either student.
“When you start to think about the less generous refund policies that exist with college and just how much it cost these days, you want to look into options of how to make sure you’re getting that money protected and safeguarded,” said Natalie Tarangioli, marketing & content for GradGuard.
GradGuard offers insurance plans for college students and their parents and they’re partners with hundreds of schools across the country.
In Tennessee, GradGuard only partners with these universities and none of them are in the Mid-South:
UT - Chattanooga Trevecca Nazarene University of Tennessee
This doesn’t stop a student from getting coverage on their own or getting a possible refund from their university if they have to take a medical withdrawal
FOX13 reached out to University of Memphis, Rhodes College, Ole Miss, Southwest Tennessee Community College, Christian Brothers University and LeMoyne Owen College and asked whether they offer tuition insurance and about their refund policies.
A spokesperson for Rhodes College says students were automatically enrolled in a third-party tuition refund plan this year but they had the option to waive coverage. If there is a medical withdrawal, Rhodes students with coverage will get an 80 percent refund for tuition and fees.
Southwest Tennessee Community College and Christian Brothers University don’t offer insurance but in both of its refund policies, students can receive a partial refund based on the number of days completed.
An Ole Miss spokesperson received our email but couldn’t send a response and we haven’t heard from LeMoyne Owen College.
A spokesman for University of Memphis didn’t send a statement and only sent a link to its reopening plans but it doesn’t include specific information about insurance or refunds.
Before the semester begins, GradGuard staff suggests asking the university if they offer tuition insurance and if they don’t ask about the refund policy so you know how it works before making any payment.
FULL STATEMENTS FROM MID-SOUTH COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES:
“Rhodes students were automatically enrolled in a third-party tuition refund plan for the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 semesters but did have the option to waive coverage. In the event of withdrawal for illness, students who retained their coverage will be refunded 80% of their tuition and fees.
Rhodes was also among the 4% of colleges and universities to implement an overall tuition reduction for the fall semester.”
SOUTHWEST TENNESSEE COMMUNITY COLLEGE:
“Southwest Tennessee Community College is committed to the safety and success of every student. Any student may withdraw from the College and receive a refund in accordance with our refund policy. Students also have the option to take an ‘Incomplete’ as a grade and complete the course requirements at a later time. Those students who receive state aid also may file an appeal for a leave of absence so they remain eligible for aid after they recover and resume their studies”. -- Southwest Tennessee Community College
CHRISTIAN BROTHERS UNIVERSITY:
“Christian Brothers University does not offer tuition insurance for students although families may choose to pursue purchasing it through their personal insurance providers. For Fall 2020, we will continue to follow our adopted refund policy should a student need to withdraw from his or her entire schedule of classes. (I have copied the policy below.) However, our goal is that no student should have to withdraw if they fall ill, whether that is due to COVID-19 or other illness. Our Academic Services, Health Services, and Student Development teams are prepared to provide extra support for any student who is ill or has to be self-quarantined, including coordination with faculty members, to help keep them from falling behind.
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