The University of North Carolina at Wilmington has been offering GradGuard Tuition Insurance to its students and families since the fall of 2020. Mindi Miller, who works in the Student Account Office, says she was excited when she first learned about GradGuard. Tuition insurance is integrated with the online bill pay system the campus uses.
“It was very exciting for me because I deal with a lot of students and their withdrawals, money back, things like that,” Miller said.
Promoting Confidence in Higher Education
It’s stressful enough to go to college. Mental health has increasingly become a concern since the start of the pandemic, and the statistics are alarming.
Miller leads orientation for new students, parents, and transfer students where she includes information about GradGuard in her presentations.
GradGuard’s Tuition Insurance program provides reimbursement for covered medical withdrawals when colleges and universities don’t. Covered injuries and illnesses include pre-existing controlled conditions, mental health conditions, and even epidemic or pandemic diseases, including COVID-19.
Tuition Insurance Is an Option for Those Who Need It
During orientation, Miller explains to students and families that GradGuard is an option that is available to them if they need it. She wants them to have a feeling of security when coming to campus and explains how GradGuard can protect their investment in their education.
“It’s nice to be able to point to that option for people who have concerns about what’s happening in the world, and on campus,” Miller said. “We’re not selling it. And people are really excited to have that option available to them.”
Miller says sharing a brief animated explainer video also helps students and families understand the financial risks associated with college and how tuition insurance works.
“It’s catchy, it’s probably the highlight of my PowerPoint presentation,” Miller said. “People really like it. It gives them a good understanding of how it works and our numbers have dramatically increased with people signing up for it.”
Tuition Insurance Plans Sold Between 2020 and 2022
- 2020 - 2021: 96
- 2021 - 2022: 1080
Program Rollout Requires No Heavy Lifting
Working with GradGuard and integrating the program within their billing provider was one of the easiest rollouts she’s been a part of, Miller says. Before the tuition insurance offer is electronically displayed to students and families, UNCW’s refund and withdrawal policies are shown and students must acknowledge that they have read it. That financial literacy component makes students and families aware that the school won’t provide a refund for withdrawals past a certain date, so that they can then make decisions that are best for them.
“There’s no heavy lifting on our part,” Miller said. “And it helps the students and families. As the person who manages it online through [the billing provider], that part is super easy. ”
Miller says the consent manager feature is a big plus about working with GradGuard. Once students acknowledge they have read and understand the school’s refund policy, a record is provided to the school to keep on file.
“That makes us feel so much better because we’re obviously affected by people’s personal situations,” Miller said. “They want to share with you what has happened in their life and the reason that they need their money back. This is a state-run institution and there are rules in place and are not bendable.”
UNC Wilmington has been a GradGuard Tuition Insurance partner for about two years now. Miller describes the program as being a hit with the school and students alike. With more policies sold each year, Miller speculates word of mouth among students and families is contributing.
"I think over time, it's just going to continue to grow," she said.
Students and families can make an informed choice when they know tuition insurance is an option for them to protect their investment. Now, more than ever, the cost of a college education is worth protecting. Schools that work with GradGuard, including UNCW, help to educate and protect their students on the financial risks of college life.