Our Partnership with GradGuard — College Life Protected

In Brief:

  • As a result of this partnership, all 1,300+ higher education institutions can have access to a new feature that integrates within their existing Nelnet Campus Commerce solution.
  • GradGuard’s tuition insurance provides a refund for deposits, academic fees, housing and tuition when a student completes an unexpected medical withdrawal due to a covered reason such as an illness (mental and physical), accident or injury.
  • GradGuard’s integration into Nelnet Campus Commerce solutions makes it easy for institution to verify that families have been given clear information of the institution’s refund policy.

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Author: Nelnet Campus Commerce

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In case you didn’t hear the news, we recently announced a partnership with GradGuard, whose mission is to help higher ed institutions protect their students and families from preventable financial losses with its tuition insurance program.  As a result of this partnership, all 1,300+ higher education institutions can have access to a new feature that integrates within their existing Nelnet Campus Commerce solution.

We spoke to John Fees, Co-Founder of GradGuard, to outline what this partnership means for Nelnet Campus Commerce partner institutions.

What does the partnership between Nelnet Campus Commerce and GradGuard mean for intuitions, students, and families?

The partnership accomplishes several things: First GradGuard’s Tuition Protection Plan helps verify that schools have disclosed their refund policies. At the same time, they are enabling each student or family to make an active choice to protect themselves from a financial loss if they are forced to withdraw from school.

GradGuard’s program also helps reduce financial costs to schools for providing refunds and administering appeals processes and reduces potential collections issues from students who withdrew with a past due balance.

Ultimately schools that provide GradGuard’s tuition protection program can promote greater confidence to the families they serve. In fact, it allows students and families to have a “do-over” if something unexpected happens to disrupt an academic term of a student and supports their return to campus when they are well enough to do so.

The main goal is to help promote greater college completion. In fact, a national poll from Ipsos – College Confidence Index indicated that 23% of parents surveyed could not pay for an additional semester of classes and 51% indicate that it would be difficult.

Thanks to the Nelnet integration within the schools billing process, now it is as easy as protecting a payment to your institution as it is to protect an airline ticket.

How does tuition insurance work?

GradGuard’s tuition insurance provides a refund for deposits, academic fees, housing and tuition when a student completes an unexpected medical withdrawal due to a covered reason such as an illness (mental and physical), accident or injury.

There is no cost to the institution because it is a voluntary student benefit.  Participating institutions can also reduce collections issues from students who withdraw, because they can be a beneficiary of GradGuard’s tuition insurance policy.

How big of an issue are student withdrawals for higher education?

Even before Covid-19, 70% of institutions surveyed reported an increase in student medical withdrawals. Data from the American College Health Association also confirms that the frequency of health conditions has grown.

From ordinary illnesses, to mental health conditions and injuries such as concussions, the data demonstrates that today’s college students arrive on campus with unique challenges that may require them to withdraw.

 The growth in the frequency of medical conditions of students and the cost of college — particularly housing and academic fees — make it difficult for institutions to provide the refunds they may have a decade ago creating a real need for families to protect their investment with tuition insurance.

What kinds of incidents are covered for students?

Three main reasons for withdrawing are covered by GradGuard insurance:

  • Chronic Illness
  • Mental health conditions
  • Serious injury or illness

More specifically, substance abuse, death of a student or the death of a tuition payer, accidents, head injuries, and diabetes are all covered reasons as well. Claims due to known, foreseeable, or expected events, epidemics, cessation of operations by the school, or fear of attending school are generally not covered. However, currently (fall of 2020) GradGuard’s tuition insurance is accommodating claims for when an insured student completely withdraws from school for the covered term due to becoming ill with COVID-19.

Providing College Refunds to students during Covid-19 has become a big deal. How does the GradGuard integration in the Nelnet platform help higher ed?

Covid-19 and the current pandemic has brought new attention to the risks of college life and specifically, the refund policies of colleges and universities nationwide.

GradGuard’s integration into Nelnet Campus Commerce solutions makes it easy for institution to verify that families have been given clear information of the institution’s refund policy.

Only 6% of institutions surveyed in 2019, reported that they provided 100% refunds for tuition, and virtually no institutions provided refunds for deposits, academic fees, or housing.  As a result, the potential financial loss to students who withdraw for medical or other hardship reasons can be fairly significant.

Providing electronic notice of the institutions refund policy and implementing GradGuard’s program helps institutions avoid unpleasant surprises when a student or family later asks for a refund.  GradGuard enables the students and institution to be prepared for unforeseeable events.

What does it cost to implement GradGuard Tuition Protection program?

There is no cost to Nelnet Campus Commerce higher ed partners. GradGuard’s Tuition Protection Plan can be easily turned on as a new student benefit and feature of your e-Commerce process.

Students or their financial sponsors are provided a voluntary choice to purchase protection during the billing process of the institution. For institutions who agree to provide the program, the cost is as low as $106.00 for $10,000 of coverage per term.

Why should institutions turn on GradGuard’s Tuition Protection program within the Nelnet platform?

We also asked survey respondents to rank a series of common concerns based on a one to five scale. One represented a relatively small concern, while five represented a larger

Colleges and universities will see many benefits, including a reduction in the cost to administer their existing refund policies. Institutions can rely on GradGuard’s tuition insurance to pay refunds to students so the burden is not on the institution that has set administrative costs.

In addition, GradGuard’s tuition insurance also helps institutions avoid adversarial collections relationships with students who leave, as our tuition insurance also assures that the intuition will still get paid.

GradGuard’s integration with Nelnet Campus Commerce truly helps institutions to verify that each student and family is fully aware of the institutions tuition refund policies, while giving them an active-choice to protect their payments to the institutions. At the end of the day, the goal is to provide each student the opportunity to protect their investment in education and give them the opportunity to return to college or university with no financial challenges if they had to unexpectedly withdraw the prior term.

Want to learn more about how GradGuard can support your institution? Sign up for our webinar.