Students Want Tuition Discounts for Online Classes, Survey Says

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A survey of 5,000 full-time undergraduate college students across 215 universities deduced that there is “near-universal agreement among students that they should not expect to pay full tuition if schools are only offering online classes and distance learning options.”

The College Pulse & Charles Koch Foundation studypublished last month in Axiosindicates that 63 percent of students believe they should pay much less, while 30 percent say they should pay a little less in tuition if there are only online learning options available. 

Schools all over the country are reassessing how they’ll return, if at all, in the fall 2020 semester in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. As per the CDC, the risk of COVID-19 spread increases in school settings and has the highest risk if classes are held at full size, in-person, and not spaced apart. The institute suggests that the lowest risk method of teaching is having “students and teachers engage in virtual-only classes, activities, and events.”

Most schools have had to pivot to online education since the virus exploded in the States in March of this year. But, considering the high price of higher education, students are asking for tuition breaks, as they’re not reaping all the benefits of on-campus learning.

Citing the limits of online education, the College Pulse survey found that 89 percent of students feel online classes are less effective in helping to develop social skills while 62 percent of students say online classes are less effective in helping “develop critical thinking.”

One student from Clemson University told College Pulse that universities should lower tuition because a lot of the fees students are charged have “to do with facilities that they probably won’t leave open.”

As for the schools hearing student's pleas, Princeton announced earlier this month it would offer a 10 percent reduction in tuition in the coming year, while Williams College, one of the country’s most prestigious liberal arts colleges, announced in June that it'd reduce their “comprehensive fee” by 15 percent for the same time period. That fee includes tuition and room and board costs. On the other side, major universities — such as Harvard — have indicated they will not be lowering fees for the upcoming academic year.

It’s unclear how other schools will modify their tuition costs or when a vaccine for COVID-19 will come about, but one thing is clear: If schools are going to reopen amid the pandemic, safety is key.

For younger students, a joint statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American Federation of Teachers (AFT), National Education Association (NEA), and the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) released last week put it best: “Returning to school is important for the healthy development and well-being of children, but we must pursue re-opening in a way that is safe for all students, teachers, and staff. Science should drive decision-making on safely reopening schools. Public health agencies must make recommendations based on evidence, not politics. We should leave it to health experts to tell us when the time is best to open up school buildings, and listen to educators and administrators to shape how we do it.”

Tags: Navigating the Pandemic, Education

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Written By

Rose Low

Rose Low is a writer based in New York, with a background in social media strategy and reporting. She has a Masters from NYU and a love for romantic comedies. See Full Bio

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