Kid Got Sick in College, Now We’re Out Tuition Money

ABC News Fixer shares tips to mitigate financial fallout for students.

— -- Dear ABC News Fixer: 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.

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Dear Kay: 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”:

- The ABC News Fixer

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