Insuring Your Education Dollars

Most people realize that education is an investment. Despite the astronomical tuition charges at private high schools and universities, parents and students know that the money they are spending should and will lead to more job opportunities and room for growth after degrees are received.

And yet what most people don't recognize is that the costs of education can be insured, just like many other investments.

Tuition and room and board at private institutions of higher learning have soared to an average of more than $20,000 a year. Prominent schools at the college-prep and elementary levels aren't much cheaper.

Many parents of first-year students worry that they are spending these steep tuitions on a school that their child might decide to leave. Just because it's expensive doesn't necessarily mean that the institution will be the best fit for your child.

But regardless of whether your child is just starting out or is returning for another year, it may be worth getting in touch with the school to determine what, if any, insurance it offers.

More than 200 universities and colleges and roughly 800 private elementary and secondary schools offer some kind of insurance — usually sold by a private company — to cover the loss if the student leaves school. Policies can range from $50 to $1,000 per school year — a typical policy costs about $200 — and will cover various reasons for leaving school.

Most university-level schools will reimburse some tuition costs for uninsured students, depending on the reason and the timing for dropping out. A sliding scale is typical: 80% of tuition is refunded if the student leaves in the first two weeks, 60% after four weeks, 40% after six weeks, and so on.

However, many private secondary and elementary schools do not refund any tuition at all.