DUELING COLUMN: Waive Unnecessary Fees, But Don’t Refund Tuition

Damielys Duarte/Staff Writer

Nearly five months after its outbreak, the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in the wreckage of families and large institutions as hundreds of nations issue stay-at-home orders and foreign economies crash. With many American households losing their sources of income, the affordability of higher education is diminishing rapidly and students are calling on universities for tuition refunds.

While the effects of COVID-19 on students’ education during the 2020 spring semester have been severe, a complete tuition refund is not the solution. Many colleges have managed to maintain students’ original course loads and effectively transfer them to online learning. Such efforts demonstrate that tuition is still warranted as students are still receiving their education.

Instead, Universities should waive all unnecessary fees, freeze all payments until Fall 2020 and offer interest-free loans for the semesters affected by the pandemic.

For many Universities, tuition is a compilation of credit hour charges along with many hidden fees that pay for extracurriculars on campus. However, such fees are no longer necessary due to the closure of campuses and college amenities.

FIU’s Financial Assistance Estimator indicates that there were $48.21 in fees per credit hour, including arbitrary terms such as “capital improvements” and “financial aid”. This means the average full-time student taking 12 credit hours is paying $578.52 a semester in fees alone. This does not include the annual $93.69 health, $10 athletics and $90.70 parking fees, all of which should be reimbursed to students as the campus is closed and we have no access to the garages, health services and campus activities.

In addition, all tuition payments should be frozen until the start of Fall 2020. This way, families severely affected by the virus have time to stabilize their financial situation and the university does not lose out completely on payments. In the meantime, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced that the Education Department will provide $3 billion in federal education block grants to state governors who can spend it on K-12 and postsecondary education. Hence, the University won’t suffer much from the loss of tuition payments for the semester.

Lastly, students undertaking loans to further their education should receive no interest loans for the semesters affected by the virus, as many students are claiming the online education they are receiving is not what they paid for. As such, students should not have to pay more for an education they did not anticipate.

While I agree with fellow students that they should not have to pay for activities and services they are not receiving, we cannot deny the fact that FIU has done its best to further our educational goals in the midst of this unprecedented situation. As such, full tuition remission is simply not possible.

Still, during this time of global uncertainty it is imperative that institutions begin to take proactive measures in financially assisting their students and future professionals of the 21st century. 

Featured image by FIU Flickr.


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