Tuition insurance policy to switch from opt-in to opt-out
Recently there has been a change in Puget Sound’s $130 tuition insurance policy.
Originally, students had the option whether or not they wanted to pay the tuition insurance.
Now, because it is automatically included, they are required to deselect the insurance if they cannot pay it. Puget Sound offers tuition insurance through A.G.W. Dewar. According to the Puget Sound website, “This plan protects your educational investment by reimbursing 100% of paid tuition and fees if you are forced to withdraw due to serious personal illness or accident.”
“Back in the 90s, we, at Puget Sound, began partnering with a company called Dewar Tuition Insurance to provide a way for families to protect their investment in the event that their student had to leave for medical reasons,” Margaret Mittuch, Associate Vice President of Student Financial Services said. “It just seemed to be the right thing to do considering our costs of education and it was something that students and families could choose to do at the time that they were making a payment for the semester.”
The tuition insurance is meant to provide a safety net for students who have to withdraw due to medical reasons, so they can be ensured their investment return. The plan also allows them to receive a withdrawal on their academic reports, not a failure withdrawal.
This change in the policy applies to all undergraduates paying for each semester. Each time, the tuition insurance will already be included, but students can choose to deselect it.
This change does not sit well with all students though, even though the $130 tuition insurance would be going to A.G. W. Dewar, not to Puget Sound.
“For working students it’s kind of difficult to start already trying to make the payments they need to make to save and they’re adding extra dollars,” sophomore Taylor Petersen said.
“While it may not seem that much, it’s still messed up. I think the fact that its automatic now is a little worrying. It seems like they’re tacking it onto our bill and hoping nobody notices.”
“It doesn’t make sense that for years it was being provided for students without the paid addition and now future college students are going to have to pay the price now,” sophomore Elise Hooker said.
“I think probably if they do change it and it becomes the norm then not many people will make a big deal of it, but it’s going to be a transition. What’s hard about it is to know that some students who have already graduated didn’t have to go through this and now the poor unfortunate college students have to be subjected to the change.”
The need to transition toward an opt-out tuition insurance policy posed a challenge to Puget Sound as well.
Since tuition continued to increase, naturally, participation did not grow either for those choosing to pay the tuition insurance.
“Over a three year period, they [A.G.W. Dewar] said something’s got to change in terms of your participation level, or we won’t be able to provide this product for you anymore,” Mittuch said.
“We were faced with having to think about, well it’s a good, valuable program and of course, the more people that participate, the lower the premium is. So I began to talk to with the person we’ve been working with this whole entire time at Dewar and say, ‘What are our options for continuing with this program?’ And they began to recommend that we do an opt-out method, which mean we’re saying, hey, you’re going to be covered unless you tell us that you don’t want to be covered and that seemed like a great opportunity to kind of get it more in front.”
Puget Sound’s goal is not only to maintain a partnership with A.G.W. Dewar, but to make sure students who have to withdraw for medical reasons are covered if it is for psycho-emotional and mental health reasons as well.
“The old plan would allow 100 percent adjustment for students that just got sick and had to withdraw, but only 60 percent for students that had to withdraw for psycho-emotional or mental health reasons,” Mittuch said.
“So I was able to secure a stronger 80 percent across the board, regardless of the kind of medical withdrawal a student needed to seek. It seems to be a greater benefit.”