Schools face rising demands for tuition rebates, increased aid and leaves of absence as students ask if college is becoming “glorified Skype.”
After Southern California’s soaring coronavirus caseload forced Chapman University this month to abruptly abandon plans to reopen its campus and shift to an autumn of all-remote instruction, the school promised that students would still get a “robust Chapman experience.”
“What about a robust refund?” retorted Christopher Moore, a spring graduate, on Facebook.
A parent chimed in. “We are paying a lot of money for tuition, and our students are not getting what we paid for,” wrote Shannon Carducci, whose youngest child, Ally, is a sophomore at Chapman, in Orange County, where the cost of attendance averages $65,000 a year. Back when they believed Ally would be attending classes in person, her parents leased her a $1,200-a-month apartment. Now, Ms. Carducci said, she plans to ask for a tuition discount.
A rebellion against the high cost of a bachelor’s degree, already brewing around the nation before the coronavirus, has gathered fresh momentum as campuses have strained to operate in the pandemic. Incensed at paying face-to-face prices for education that is increasingly online, students and their parents are demanding tuition rebates, increased financial aid, reduced fees and leaves of absences to compensate for what they feel will be a diminished college experience.
At Rutgers University, more than 30,000 people have signed a petition started in July calling for an elimination of fees and a 20 percent tuition cut. More than 40,000 have signed a plea for the University of North Carolina system to refund housing charges to students in the event of another Covid-19-related campus shutdown. The California State University system’s early decision to go online-only this fall has incited calls for price cuts at campuses from Fullerton to San Jose.
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