Due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in the U.S., universities across the country made a quick switch to remote learning to protect the health of staff, students, and faculty. However, many students are now suing their universities for partial refunds of tuition, room and board expenses, meal plans, and parking passes. Additional university fees include everything from access to labs and lab equipment, art studios and supplies, dance studios, and gyms – facilities and supplies that students can no longer access due to remote learning.
While universities are arguing that online learning is more expensive than traditional on-campus classes, students are not accepting this. With student loan debt at an all time high, it is understandable that students want financial transparency from their universities and refunds wherever possible.
OSU transitioned to remote learning on March 30 in accordance with health recommendations from the CDC and Governor Kate Brown. This meant a completely virtual spring term for all students. To accommodate student needs for the spring term, the university loosened strict cancellation policies and checkout fees for housing, rolled over or credited back dining card credit, and enacted a tuition freeze for returning undergraduate students in the 2020-2021 academic year. Additionally, parking permits and time spent in spring term housing was prorated by the university for those who requested refunds.
Federal work study programs are essential for many students financially, as well serving as valuable work experience. Some of these programs were able to continue remotely, in which case students were paid as normal. Students who could not participate in these programs due to the transition to remote operations were paid a lump sum of $1,000, according to Steve Clark, Vice President for University Relations and Marketing.
Incidental fees were reduced for spring term by both OSU and OSU-Cascades from $398.44 to $353.30 and $267 to $111 respectively. These adjustments were decided on by their respective student governments. Steve Clark explains, “The greater reduction for spring term at OSU-Cascades occurred as the student government there dropped a self-imposed assessment charged students to help pay a share of the cost of a new student success center building. Meanwhile, in Corvallis, student leaders chose to retain funding for as many student employees and programs as possible that are funded by student incidental fees.”
The university hopes to hold in–person graduations for both campuses in the fall, dependent on the health guidelines during that time. OSU is also working on plans to safely return to on-campus learning and activities.
For more information on COVID related changes visit: https://covid.oregonstate.edu/faq.
By Emily Weninger