I have a son who was attending Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania. In mid-April, he was diagnosed with a condition called chronic osteomyelitis. Essentially his right femur had staph and pseudomonas bacteria growing inside his bone.
Over four weeks he had three surgeries. He has been told he will face more surgeries.
When he became ill, we reached out to the college requesting incompletes for the semester, and we requested that he be allowed to finish his work over the summer. They have refused. Scott will not be able to complete his classes and we are facing a large loss of tuition and fees.
The four courses were intro freshman classes. I do not understand why they will not work online or provide other options for completing his classes.
- Kay Hunsberger, Perkasie, Pa.
Got a consumer problem? The ABC News Fixer may be able to help. Click here to submit your problem online. Letters are edited for length and clarity.
Talk about a double-whammy – first, your son comes down with a truly awful illness and then you get to watch all that college money just go down the drain.
Between the time you wrote to the ABC News Fixer and the time we got involved, Elizabethtown College had agreed to already figured out a refund of tuition, room and board and other fees, based on the number of spring semester weeks that had gone by before your son formally withdrew. That came to about $7,100. Unfortunately, they weren’t willing to budge on your request that Scott be able to finish the classes over the summer, nor would they increase the amount of your refund. You told us that in the end, you’re still out about $11,000.
We’re sorry this didn’t work out better.
But your problem got us thinking: What about all the thousands of kids heading off to college this fall? Is there any way to avoid the financial hit that comes when a student gets sick in the middle of the semester?
There are few things students and their parents can do to mitigate the financial fallout, according to Kal Chany, college finance expert and author of “Paying for College Without Going Broke”:
Most people groan at the thought of spending hours on the phone with a customer service call center, but Stephanie Zimmermann relishes the chance to slice through red tape.
Before joining ABC News, Stephanie untangled consumer problems at the Chicago Sun-Times, where her popular column recovered more than $1.4 million in refunds, credits, and merchandise for consumers in the Windy City.
Stephanie, who lives in Chicago, has also worked at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, and has bachelor's and master's degrees from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. But most of all, Stephanie is a consumer who hates to see anyone else get ripped off.