reimbursement policy

Combs became aware of the program after a friend from U. Va. reached out and informed her about how it can be helpful to students. 

Unprecedented university student withdrawals can result in thousands of dollars wasted on classes, housing and textbooks. To counteract the possibility of a forced withdrawal for reasons such as injury or sickness, last spring, JMU began planning to implement a tuition insurance service with Allianz and OnPlanU.

Student withdrawals can be detrimental to a family, which is an unfortunate reality to many. JMU has already experienced the loss of Nathan Campbell, a sophomore finance and political science double major, and the recent severe injury of JMU sophomore Jared Antle. In an effort to help with situations such as these, nearly 30 families at JMU have taken action to protect their payments on college expenses.

If unforeseen circumstances arise that prohibit a student from graduating, this service will allow families and students to be completely reimbursed. This service protects JMU families with the option of numerous insurance plans that begin at $29.95 per term. For maximum coverage, plans extend to as much as $600 per term. The protection provided by this plan can easily save families hours spent worrying, and thousands of dollars. Additionally, JMU has made this new policy easier to manage for students and families by being one of the first to introduce an automated payment plan. The security the new program provides has proven to be appealing to both parents and students.

“A friend of mine over at U. Va. had sent me some information saying, ‘We’re using this product, and you’ve mentioned before that you’d like to look for something like this,’” Linda Combs, director of the University Business Office at JMU, said. “It’s a great product that provides a great benefit.”

The reimbursement process is dependent on which plan is chosen by the family. Reimbursement for the death, illness or injury of a student is always covered. In two of the three plans, a full refund would be provided, and in the third plan, the maximum claim of $2,500 would be put into effect. An 80 to 100 percent reimbursement is provided on mental health problems, as well as the $2,500 maximum on the most inexpensive plan.

In order to be reimbursed, applications often need to be submitted from health care professionals, parents, the university and, if applicable, the students themselves. Following the submissions, a decision regarding the extent of the reimbursement is made. Each policy covers the student for a single semester, and claims can be filed for at any point during the term.

“I think it’s great that families will be able to worry about more important things than tuition money,” Anoush Stamm, a freshman English major, said. “It’s great that families will be able to focus their attention on something more important when it’s necessary.”

The protection provided in the plan allows families to feel secure in their payments when sending a child to college. 

“Any type of way we can get this information out to students and families, we’re going to take,” Combs said. JMU has attracted nearly 30 families to its new service, and with new marketing ideas ahead, JMU is confident that the benefits of the program will be recognized by many.

“I think this is a really favorable program because of the benefits it provides to lower income families,” John Ulmer, a senior political science major, said.

Prior to the program that’s recently been enacted, JMU offered a similar service. The previous arrangement offered a life insurance plan on the person who had taken out the payment. The aforementioned company, TMS, was bought out a number of years ago and convenient protection on tuition payments has been a priority for JMU ever since. 

“We thought it was a great service back then, and we started looking at other companies and nobody offered that anymore,” Combs said. “It was always something that was on the back burner.”

Due to the comfort provided by the insurance plan, JMU is confident that as it continues to spread the word about this program and its benefits, there’ll be a substantial increase in those who decide to sign up.

“It was a no-brainer,” Combs said. “You don’t have to take it, but it’s there if you’re interested in it. It was just something else we can offer to students and their parents.”

Contact Connor Murphy at murph2cj@dukes.jmu.edu. For more coverage of JMU and Harrisonburg news, follow the news desk on Twitter @BreezeNewsJMU.