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Do college students need life insurance?

Life insurance could help protect some college students in the event of worst-case scenarios — but it isn’t a prerequisite.

If you’re a college student, you probably already know which supplies you need to outfit your dorm room and complete your coursework. But some students — and, let’s be honest, their parents — might be asking themselves whether college students need to think about life insurance, especially during what might be considered uncertain times.

Do college students need life insurance? If so, what does life insurance for college students even look like? In addition to the extra-long sheet sets and Zoom-friendly Ring lights, should you add “affordable term life insurance policy” to your back-to-school shopping list?

“It really depends on the situation,” says Kristen Wilson, Underwriter Innovation SME at Haven Life. “Usually, college students don’t need life insurance. However, college students who have partners and children might want to take out a life insurance policy to protect their dependents  in the event of a worse-case scenario.”

When should college students consider a life insurance plan? Does the age of the student matter? What about a college student who has a large number of student loans — should they take out a life insurance policy to help pay student loans after death?

Here’s what you need to know about life insurance for college students— including why most traditionally-aged, full-time college students don’t need to worry about taking out coverage with a life insurance company.

In this article:

When do college students need life insurance?

When should a college student take out a life insurance policy? Believe it or not, the answer is fairly simple. “The death benefit of a life insurance policy can help replace lost income,” Wilson explains. “If you have loved ones or dependents who could be affected by your lost income, you should consider a life insurance policy.”

Many college students have some kind of job while they’re in college, whether they enroll in a work-study program as part of their financial aid package or pick up a side hustle to earn extra cash. However, most college students don’t bring in the kind of income that life insurance can help replace.

That said, some non-traditional college students could benefit from an affordable term life insurance policy. If you are a parent who is taking college classes while holding down a full-time job to pay for college costs and family expenses, for example, having a life insurance policy in place is a very smart move. “If you’re working while you go to college, you could buy a life insurance policy so that if the unexpected happens, the payout could help to replace lost income for your dependents,” says Wilson.

Should part-time college students consider life insurance?

College students who are going to school at night, taking classes online or otherwise fitting their coursework around the demands of a full-time job can benefit from a life insurance policy — especially if they have a partner or children who might depend on their income.

What about students who are going to college part-time and working part-time? It all depends on how much money you are bringing in at your part-time job — and whether you have loved ones who are relying on that money to help cover their basic needs.

Stay-at-home parents who are going to college part-time should also consider life insurance. Why? Because your loved ones are relying on you to provide much-needed caregiving — and in a worst-case scenario, a life insurance policy could help cover the cost of that care.

What about life insurance and student loans?

Do you need life insurance if you have student loans? Not necessarily — although there are a few situations in which life insurance can help people who might have co-signed on your loans.

It’s important to understand what happens to your student loans after you die — and keep in mind that not all loans are treated the same way. “Federal student loans are discharged at death,” Wilson explains. Many private loans, on the other hand, are not — and if a parent or another loved one served as a co-signer on your loan, they could be legally responsible for the unpaid balance.

Does this mean that college students should take out life insurance policies to help their loved ones pay unpaid student loans? Not if they’re not earning any income yet. “If parents co-sign on a student’s loans, the parents should have life insurance in place that can help them to pay the cost of any unpaid student loans,” Wilson explains. “Once the college student is working, they can take out a life insurance policy so that if they were to pass away, the payout could help their co-signers to pay back their student loans.”

When should you apply for your first life insurance policy?

How old do you need to be to apply for life insurance with an insurance provider? At Haven Life, applicants need to be at least 18 or 20 years old (depending on their state of residence) to apply for a medically-underwritten Haven Term policy and at least 18 years old to apply for Haven Simple, which, if approved, doesn’t require a medical exam to finalize coverage. (It’s important to be honest in the application process. The issuance of the policy or payment of benefits is based upon the truthfulness of the answers you give in the application.)

That doesn’t mean you should apply for life insurance the day you turn 18, though. Instead, Wilson advises young people to watch for another major life milestone — the day you start earning enough income to support yourself. Getting your first life insurance policy early — even if you don’t yet have a partner or children — is a sound idea because if you take out a term life insurance policy when you are young and in excellent health, you can lock in a low monthly premium payment that can last as long as 30 years with an insurance provider.

“You can apply to take out a life insurance policy with an insurance company as soon as you wish. It helps to have a good idea of what your [long-term] income is going to be, so that you can take that into consideration when determining the amount of coverage you want,” Wilson explains, “even if you don’t have any dependents at the time.”

If you’re in college — or if you decide to go back to college — while you’re earning this income, then having a life insurance policy in place is a good idea. Otherwise, you can go ahead and spend your college days focusing on classwork, paying college costs, extracurriculars and building life-long friendships — and save your life insurance application until after you’ve used what you learned in college to help you launch your career.

Why Haven Life?

The answer to that question is easy (which is exactly how Haven Life makes applying for term life insurance)

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About Nicole Dieker

Nicole Dieker has been a full-time freelance writer since 2012, with a focus on personal finance and habit formation. In addition to Haven Life, her work regularly appears at Lifehacker, Bankrate, CreditCards.com, and Vox. Dieker spent five years as a writer and editor for The Billfold, a personal finance blog where people had honest conversations about money, and is the author of Frugal and the Beast: And Other Financial Fairy Tales.

Read more by Nicole Dieker

Our editorial policy

Haven Life is a customer-centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.

Our editorial policy

Haven Life is a customer centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.

Our content is created for educational purposes only. Haven Life does not endorse the companies, products, services or strategies discussed here, but we hope they can make your life a little less hard if they are a fit for your situation.

Haven Life is not authorized to give tax, legal or investment advice. This material is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for tax, legal, or investment advice. Individuals are encouraged to seed advice from their own tax or legal counsel.

Our disclosures

Haven Term is a Term Life Insurance Policy (DTC and ICC17DTC in certain states, including NC) issued by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111-0001 and offered exclusively through Haven Life Insurance Agency, LLC. In NY, Haven Term is DTC-NY 1017. In CA, Haven Term is DTC-CA 042017. Haven Term Simplified is a Simplified Issue Term Life Insurance Policy (ICC19PCM-SI 0819 in certain states, including NC) issued by the C.M. Life Insurance Company, Enfield, CT 06082. Policy and rider form numbers and features may vary by state and may not be available in all states. Our Agency license number in California is OK71922 and in Arkansas 100139527.

MassMutual is rated by A.M. Best Company as A++ (Superior; Top category of 15). The rating is as of Aril 1, 2020 and is subject to change. MassMutual has received different ratings from other rating agencies.

Haven Life Plus (Plus) is the marketing name for the Plus rider, which is included as part of the Haven Term policy and offers access to additional services and benefits at no cost or at a discount. The rider is not available in every state and is subject to change at any time. Neither Haven Life nor MassMutual are responsible for the provision of the benefits and services made accessible under the Plus Rider, which are provided by third party vendors (partners). For more information about Haven Life Plus, please visit: https://havenlife.com/plus.html

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