Robert Crohan/Staff Writer
I can guarantee that anyone reading this knows someone who has lost a job amidst the pandemic. They may even know someone who has contracted the virus. What started as a small breakout in central China has quickly spiraled into a global economic calamity rivaling the Great Depression that has the potential to kill tens of millions.
Although we live in a rich country, not everyone has reaped the benefits of America’s economic might. Because of these unnerving circumstances, I believe FIU should take a drastic measure to assist its students, by reimbursing tuition and fees for those in need throughout the duration of the pandemic, giving priority to those struggling most.
Many in South Florida understand how difficult it can be to pay the bills, and an FIU study found Miami to be America’s least affordable city. That has not changed. In the past few weeks, unemployment has spiked and we have seen long lines for food across South Florida.
Because most families are expected to pay their typical expenses, they likely do not have a steady source of income. It has been indicated that the $1200 government stimulus check recently issued can only provide for a family for one week, let alone the next few months. We cannot count on further assistance from Miami-Dade or Broward counties because they are under enough stress as is, and the federal government may not disperse more stimuli to the people given current gridlock in Congress.
Tuition has only gotten more expensive and scholarships are incredibly competitive, so even those who apply are not guaranteed to receive money. If FIU reimburses students for tuition who need it, they can continue an online education with less financial stress, especially if they lived on campus or had a meal plan.
This should also be of assistance to students who struggle to focus, are chronically ill, or have other disabilities. As someone with ADHD, I have felt unable to focus under much stress, and students at UM have reported similar issues. Those who are still working can focus on paying for other crucial necessities such as food and electricity.
In addition, FIU should not have too much of an issue providing this service, given that they recently renovated various areas in Graham Center and are being forced to shut down campus services frequented by students. Florida colleges will collect millions in federal aid that can and should be used to pay employees’ salaries and student reimbursements, should FIU receive some money.
It is the job of the university to provide all the necessary resources for students to succeed in class and be successful in life. Although I feel FIU has done a stellar job in transitioning students to online instruction and providing reimbursements for housing and meal plans, a successful public institution can take the extra step to ensure the comfort, safety, and financial health of its students. Unfortunately, it might not be enough to only waive unimportant fees and offer interest-free loans, as many families do not have the privilege of receiving only this money or finding the time to prioritize spending with the money they hold.
I am not speaking for myself; I will be fine. However, I know there are many who will be helped—and possibly saved—by tuition reimbursements, should they be provided to eligible Panthers.
Featured image by FIU Flickr.
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