Students around the country have started to sign petitions, demanding colleges reduce tuition costs amid the pandemic. A recent survey by OneClass.com shows 93 percent of college students feel tuition should be reduced this semester since most classes will be held online.
“I feel terrible, you know, by this one semester that I have to pay the exact same amount as I would by getting a whole college experience,” said Gabrielle Perez.
Perez is a junior at Michigan State University and is one of many college students demanding lower tuition with online classes. She started a petition at her school, claiming “online classes hold a far less value compared to those that were once in a classroom”
“You are at a Big Ten school. I am paying for a Big Ten school. I’m not getting the Big Ten-school experience,” said Perez.
Currently, MSU has only committed to a tuition freeze, which essentially keeps tuition the same as the previous two years. However, around the country, other higher education institutions have begun reducing their tuition.
Georgetown University, Princeton University, Lafayette College, Rowan University, Spelman College, Clark Atlanta University, and American University are just some of the higher education institutions that have lowered tuition by 10 percent. Schools like Hampton University and Williams College have lowered their tuition by 15 percent, while Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) announced it will be offering incoming freshman full-tuition scholarships for the first year. All other SNHU students will have their tuition rate slashed from $31,000 to $10,000.
Most schools have held strong in maintaining current tuition rates, with a few even raising tuition.
“You can’t talk about prices and what institutions are charging students without talking about cost,” said Denisa Gandara, an assistant professor of educational policy and leadership at Southern Methodist University. “In many cases, the costs are going up.”
Gandara explained many higher education institutions are reluctant to reduce tuition because of additional costs this year. Those additional costs include the cost of remote-learning equipment, training instructors to teach remotely effectively, and higher health insurance premiums.
“I imagine institutions are still looking at their numbers and trying to decide whether they do need to lower their prices to attract more students,” she said.
Some fear a significant number of college students will drop out or take the semester off, and some students have threatened that in their petitions.
“You have so much time to go back to college anyways, that this one semester or maybe a whole year is not going to define you,” said Perez.
Financial experts like Calvin Williams, Jr., CEO at Freeman Capital, believe a semester or two away from a four-year higher education institution may not be so bad after all. In fact, from a financial perspective both short and long-term, he is encouraging students to do this.
During this pandemic, his company has been providing college students with advice on how to save on college tuition. One major way to save, according to William, Jr., is to consider taking transferable classes at a community college where tuition is already drastically lower than that at a four-year college or university.
“Going down the community college-first route, for at least a COVID time like this, it will allow you to save money on tuition on room and board, and you will have a lot of flexibility in a year or two when you transfer to a four-year, carry those credits but carry less debt,” said William, Jr.