By Ariana QueenanSPECIAL TO THE CHRONICLE
At Hofstra University, if a student must completely withdraw from classes due to a mental health condition and has failed to purchase the $127 tuition insurance, he or she may not get their tuition refunded.
According to a survey report published by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 64 percent of college students with mental health conditions are no longer attending college, because of mental health related reasons. The primary diagnoses of those surveyed are depression, bipolar disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder.
Hofstra’s tuition refund plan is run through a company named Dewar.
It states that if a student has purchased the tuition insurance and must withdraw for mental health reasons, he or she can put in a claim with the insurance company, but will only have up to 60 percent of their tuition returned. Up to 75 percent of tuition is returned to students for physical injuries or sickness, according to the company’s information pamphlet, found in the University’s financial aid office.
Claims put into Dewar will only be reviewed if they are accompanied with a note from a licensed physician confirming that the impending condition warrants for a complete withdraw from classes.
“I definitely think that is unfair. Mental illness is the same as a physical illness it’s just manifesting in a different part of your body,” said Gabriella Munoz, junior, computer science major.
Furthermore, Dewar will not cover those who suffer mental issues due to “drugs or agents, which is similarly classed or has similar effects” or “suicide or intentional self-inflicted injury or sickness,” the pamphlet states.
Currently, 20.5 percent of students nationwide have reported being diagnosed or treated for a mental health condition during the past year, according to a study done in 2012 by the American College Health Association.
“I know a couple people with mental illnesses that have been negatively affected by these policies and it’s not fair to them, because they aren’t being treated as people who are suffering. They are being treated as people who don’t have any issues,” said junior business major, Brittany Schreiber.
Students who did not purchase insurance at the beginning of the semester have the option of submitting a written appeal and requesting their tuition money back due to their unforeseen circumstances.
According to the policies of the financial aid office at Hofstra, students are allowed to submit a written appeal regarding almost anything. The financial aid department declined to comment on the insurance policy. The written appeals are handled on a case-by-case basis; a student could either get some or none of their tuition money. Munoz said that she felt the policy was relatively fair, in regards to purchasing insurance to protect oneself.
“I think that if you don’t buy the insurance you shouldn’t necessarily get your money back, I mean insurance doesn’t work unless you have it,” said Munoz.
Still, some students, like Schreiber, remained skeptical of the policies of Dewar.
“I would call [the policy] discriminatory, because they are treating people differently and they aren’t treating mental illness as an illness,” said Schreiber. “I don’t think Hofstra deciding to use this insurance company is supportive of those who suffer from mental illnesses.”