College students are bringing something else new to campus besides disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer and masks this year: tuition insurance.

As some colleges welcome students to their campuses this month, potentially exposing them to COVID-19, they’re shaming them for partying, as well as promoting insurance policies in case they get sick. For families, the pandemic has raised questions about the risk of paying for tuition, fees, room and board — and then trying to get a refund.

“More students than ever before are starting the fall semester with tuition insurance,” said Natalie Tarangioli with the Boston-based company GradGuard, the country’s largest provider of tuition insurance. “Inquiries have just gone up dramatically.”

The company says it’s doubled the number of policies sold compared to last year. Since the Great Recession of 2008, GradGuard has partnered with colleges, including Harvard, Suffolk and Brandeis.

A majority of colleges, though, still don’t offer insurance policies, and very few provide refunds for fees, deposits or room and board. Instead, they have tiered tuition refunds if students withdraw during the first few weeks of classes. Consumer advocates are concerned about the limits of the coverage and its cost, particularly for low- and middle-income families.

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