How is this fair? Well, it’s not.
As a recent college graduate who completed these past spring and summer terms over Zoom, I can assure you that tuition fees should decrease. Let’s start with the most basic fact: The quality is not the same. Why should the price be the same?
Even though professors did the best they could with the limited time and unfortunate situation, remote learning was nowhere near the experience of in-person classes for many of us.
This is not necessarily because they were online. Many part-time and non-traditional students complete their degrees by taking all their courses remotely. That does not make their education any less rigorous, effective, or valid.
It’s important to point out that they choose to commit to this kind of learning. The difference this year lies in that people have been forced into this kind of education.
Don’t get me wrong. I couldn’t agree more on the need for hybrid and remote teaching initiatives from all schools around the country. That’s the safest thing to do right now. Nonetheless, there’s no denying that the playing field is not level for all students, and the gaps become much larger when they are not on campus.
Tuition money also includes access to institutions’ resources and facilities. When students stay home, it is low-income, first-gen, and neurodivergent students who deal with the worse.
How is someone who lives paycheck to paycheck supposed to get their books, if not from the school’s library? How is someone who needs one-on-one tutoring sessions and study group meetings to catch up on a subject supposed to understand the material without that support? How is someone with ADHD supposed to navigate classes as usual in a different, more distracting environment at home?
Some may think that upcoming semesters could be better because universities and faculty have had more time to prepare. However, the circumstances have not changed for anyone. In fact, several states have gotten worse over the past few months. Florida, Arizona, and Texas continue to break records of new COVID-19 cases every day. So how can institutions expect any type of normalcy?
Students’ financial situations have drastically shifted. Parents who are small business owners have lost a significant percentage of their typical income. Many parents (and students) are unemployed, and some families are homeless due to the crisis.
Regardless, some colleges are not only rejecting the idea of charging less but are also increasing tuition costs. University of Southern California (USC), St. John’s University, Syracuse University, Harvard, Wellesley College, and the University of Michigan are some of them.
The pandemic has had a severe financial impact on U.S. households, and it has been detrimental to the stability of numerous international students’ families as well. Wellesley College, however, refuses to make any exceptions to their strict need-aware policy for international students, which excludes them from the general financial aid review process.
Currently, only five universities in the U.S. offer need-blind admission to all international students.
Ultimately, it is morally wrong for any college student to be charged the same (or more) for tuition during such unprecedented and challenging times.