Consumer Reports: What you need to know about tuition insurance

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Shirleen Allicot reports (WABC)

The cost of a private four-year college now averages $42,000 per year, a big investment. Should you consider tuition insurance so you can get a reimbursement if your child has to leave before the end of the year?

When planning for college for their three boys, the Rosatis considered the possibility that one of them might have to withdraw. So when Patrice heard about tuition insurance, it piqued her interest.

"Amongst other friends who have kids in colleges, a lot of us, you know, would talk about this tuition insurance," said Patrice Rosati.

Graduation is the goal, but the reality is that the most recent data show that more than 15 percent of students leave school within two years. Tuition insurance can range in cost from under $300 to well over 600 a year.

But Consumer Reports says that might not be money well spent.

"Most tuition insurance only covers withdrawals for medical and mental health issues. But there are a lot of other reasons students withdraw, which often won't be covered," said Tobie Stanger of Consumer Reports.

Two companies that provide tuition insurance to hundreds of colleges and universities, A-W-G Dewar and Markel through Gradguard, say they won't cover withdrawals due to parent job loss, or academic or disciplinary issues.

And Consumer Reports says the policies may not even cover every medical emergency.

"For instance, injuries related to alcohol or drug abuse probably won't be covered. And if it's an injury that gets worse during school, it may not be covered if the injury happened before the policy went into effect," said Stanger.

Keep in mind, too, the school may refund some part of tuition and room and board costs depending on when the student withdraws.

That's what Patrice counted on when she decided not to get tuition insurance.

"We always thought too that, God forbid, something serious were to happen, the school would act in good faith to help out and reimburse us to a point," Rosati said.

Usually, tuition insurance is sold through educational institutions, although not all schools offer it. If they do, you'll most likely get a brochure in the orientation packet you get before the semester starts.
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