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Doing College

By Elizabeth LaScala

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About this blog: I post articles to offer timely and substantive college admission guidance on important topics and issues. Originally from New York, I have a B.S. from Hunter College in NYC and advanced professional degrees from the University of...  (More)

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Save Fast Cash on College Costs

Uploaded: May 6, 2013
So you are headed off to college in the fall and you have about a million things to do. There are activities to attend, decisions to make and forms to complete. And then there are the bills you will need to pay including tuition and fees, housing, meal plans, and more. The details are staggering and it easy to miss ways to save.

There is one surefire way to save a lot of cash fast. Your first bill will include coverage for student health insurance. Although most students are covered by parental insurance policies, colleges contract with insurers to make certain each student on campus is covered. The cost of coverage ranges from several hundred to nearly a thousand dollars.

Here's the tricky part. The elective charge for health insurance is often listed along with other charges that are not optional. So it is easy to miss. Once you identify the charge on the bill, it is important to understand that you (the student) must waive the health coverage by filing some sort of 'opt out' form. The procedure is different at different colleges, and it varies in complexity. Many colleges provide a single online form to fill out that provides evidence of coverage. Some schools may send you more information than you need, and the instructions about how to waive the coverage are buried somewhere in these pages. Either way, it's well worth the effort.

After you submit your waiver request, the college verifies your coverage before it removes the charge from your billing. If you are certain you have insurance coverage, be certain to deduct the line item fee from the amount you pay. Often it is impossible to get a refund from the college, if you pay the charge. Then you will have to wait until the next year to opt out because many colleges charge for the entire year of health coverage on the first bill.

It is also important for you to realize that access to the student health center is not impacted by waiving the college-provided health insurance plan. Actual access to student health services (e.g. going in to schedule an appointment) is covered by tuition and fees. So you are still able to make appointments and access care at the student health center. The insurance only relates to the way medical services, procedures and medications are charged and paid.

Missing the health insurance charge is a common mistake that is easily avoided. Look out for it and it can save you thousands of dollars over the course of your college years. With the cost of a college education on the rise, there are better ways to use these funds.

Elizabeth LaScala Ph.D. guides college, transfer and graduate school applicants through the complex world of admissions. She develops best match college lists, offers personalized interview and essay coaching, and tools and strategies to help students tackle each step of the admissions process with confidence and success. Elizabeth helps students from all backgrounds to maximize merit and financial aid awards. Visit; Call (925) 891-4491 or email at
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