Lowering Tuition in a Pandemic

Lowering Tuition in a Pandemic

Renee Prvulov

September 25, 2020

COVID-19 has impacted us in ways we could not have foreseen. We have to adjust to the uncertain times: wearing masks in the grocery store, eating at restaurants at 50 percent capacity and taking classes that are all online. On August 18, 2020, Michigan State University (MSU) President Samuel Stanley Jr. announced that all classes for the Fall 2020 semester were going to be online. Both students and faculty have had to adjust to this new way of teaching and learning. Many have pondered the question, if we aren’t getting the same college experience as usual, should tuition remain the same?

According to the Office of Admissions, tuition for in-state students is approximately $14,524 per semester. Tuition costs more for out of state students at $39,830 per semester. Is a Zoom education worth the same cost? Many students feel that tuition should be lowered since they are not able to reap the full benefits of what they are paying for.

Hannah Zabicki, a senior at MSU, is taking her remote classes from home this semester. She was disappointed when she realized she was not coming back to campus for the fall, but ultimately felt that the university made a smart choice given the circumstances. Zabicki feels that given the unique circumstances surrounding the semester and the different learning environment, tuition should be lowered to some extent. 

“When I think about paying for tuition, I think about paying for the experience. LIke getting to be on campus, getting to sit in a lecture and be taught in person, get to interact with other students. So given that it’s not the same as usual, I would say that it should be lowered,” said Zabicki. 

Zabicki feels less motivated learning remotely because her classes feel less structured. Without physically having to go to class everyday and being forced to pay attention, she finds it easier to be unorganized and be overwhelmed. She learns better in person and in a more structured environment. 

Despite the circumstances, she feels her professors are trying their best to make online classes work. Zabicki appreciates the efforts of professors who are providing more resources and are doing synchronous learning to mimic the classroom environment to the best of their ability. 

If there was a cut in tuition, she feels that they would have to reevaluate where they are allocating funds to. She thinks if tuition was lowered, it would affect how campus looked next year for other students. 

Meghan King is a senior at MSU. She believes that tuition should be lowered, especially since she is paying out of state tuition. 

“I do understand that it might not be possible and that lowering tuition may not be a viable option, but I do believe that in certain ways there should be a decrease in tuition,” said King.

King contacted the Office of Financial Aid to inquire if there was any action being taken to lower tuition. She received an email from them stating:

“Unfortunately the university is not offering any tuition discounts to students with all online classes. Since you are still taking classes, even if it is online, you still have to pay tuition.” 

Many people feel the same way as Zabicki and King and have decided to take action. Over 2,000 students have signed a petition circulating online to lower tuition, created by MSU junior Gabrielle Perez. The petition states:

“The price of tuition has not been dropped despite the switch to remote learning. The Board of Trustees demands students to pay the flat rate tuition for classes that were once in person. These online classes hold a far less value compared to those that were once in a classroom.”

While students are concerned that a Zoom education can not compare to the learning experience they would get in the classroom, faculty members are still putting in a lot of effort and time to make the most out of this situation for their students.

Casey Miles is an academic advisor and professor through the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures. Miles says the online classes for her are actually more work, and more prep time goes into each class. All faculty have already taken a pay cut, herself included. Tuition costs affect her salary, and she is finding herself doing more work than she would face-to-face. 

“I empathize with the students’ experience, but I also empathize with the faculty experience,” said Miles.

Looking from the student’s perspective, Miles understands where they are coming from. Their classes are different, and they feel as if they are not getting the same level of engagement from both their professors and their classmates. 

“It’s a tricky situation depending on who you are,” said Miles. 

Miles thinks it could benefit students as well as the university to lower tuition. In these unprecedented times, she believes it could incentivize students to stay who are considering deferring for a year, transferring or decreasing their course load. 

Miles does not believe the university will take the appropriate actions to lower tuition and accommodate students during this time of remote learning. She said the university sees lowering tuition as the university hemorrhaging money as a result. As of now, no decision or action has been taken to lower tuition as students and faculty participate in class from behind their computer screens. 

Renee Prvulov is a senior majoring in Professional Writing with a minor in creative writing for fiction. She is a consultant at the writing center and a publishing intern for the Cube. She hopes to attend a publishing institute after graduation, and find a job editing at a publishing company. To destress, she loves to read, write, and binge watch on Netflix.