The College Post
The College Post -- Covering Higher Education in America

Students Lobby for Reduced Tuition as US Universities Move Online

University students around the United States are lobbying for reduced tuition after many institutions switched to online classes for the fall semester.

The continued health risks associated with coronavirus have forced universities to partially, or in some cases completely, turn to remote learning to ensure the safety of their students and staff.

However, many students believe that schools should cut tuition and fees because of the reduced in-person classroom time and less access to on-campus resources.

Online Petitions

Several petitions have surfaced online on the issue. At Rutgers University, more than 30,000 people signed a petition to eliminate fees and cut tuition by 20 percent. The petition states that “just because we have a ‘world-class education’ does not mean that remote learning is a substitute for in-class learning and other on-campus services.”

In response to news that Rutgers would reduce campus fees by 15 percent, the post was edited to reflect the petitioners’ opinion.

“A 15% reduction in campus fees still results in a charge of around $1,300 – for a campus we will not be utilizing. We need a clear breakdown of fees to understand where our money is going if the tangible resources will not be available,” the petition explained.

Another petition to Oregon State University, started last February, also called for a reduction in tuition fees. This was in response to the university’s announcement that all classes would be taught remotely.

“As on-campus students, we are paying with the expectation of in person guidance and teaching,” the petition said. “With a switch to online classes, we are losing precious instructional hours, access to critical resources, and are being given an education that is not comparable to the cost of our tuition.”

Across the University of North Carolina System, more than 40,000 signed a plea to refund housing charges to students if another campus shutdown takes place.

Divided Responses

A few universities have cut down significantly on tuition.

For example, the Franciscan University of Steubenville, a private Catholic university in Ohio, announced in April that it would completely cover the cost of tuition after financial aid and scholarships for incoming graduates. The Southern New Hampshire University is also offering a 100 percent discount for freshmen. The following year is discounted by 61 percent.

The more common course of action is to implement a 10 to 15 percent cut, which can be seen in Princeton University, Georgetown University, and Rowan University.

The National University is offering a 25 percent discount, while Thomas University has cut fees by 30 percent.

Struggles Pre-COVID

The increasing cost of post-secondary education in the US has been a continuing issue which the pandemic has intensified.

According to bond credit rating business Moody’s Investor Service, around 30 percent of universities “were already running operating deficits” even before the pandemic. The service changed its outlook for US higher education from stable to negative.

Scott Galloway, a professor at the New York University, estimates that nearly 90 colleges around the country may be forced to close due to the pandemic due to the lack of revenues as well as the lack of clarity regarding student admissions.