Amidst all of the confusion and change surrounding COVID-19, some California Lutheran University students have began wondering whether or not we will be receiving a refund for our tuition.
At Cal Lutheran, students pay a hefty tuition to have smaller class sizes that offer more intimate lectures with professors.
This hefty amount of tuition also allows for students to have access to services on campus, many of which we now do not have.
The few services that have also transitioned into online such as the Math Center and the Writing Center are still available to students, but don’t offer the same face-to-face time.
Considering the length of time students will be taking online classes in comparison to the amount of time they were able to attend classes on campus, it is ridiculous to not give students a refund or reimbursement for service charges or amenities that can’t be used off campus, such as the gym, computer labs and library.
Though students who relied on residence halls for living situations and those with meal plans have received a partial refund, financial aid should be credited to a future semester, and at least 30% of tuition should be refunded to students.
By not offering a partial reimbursement, Cal Lutheran is showing a huge disregard for the mental, physical, and financial well being of arguably their most valuable asset, students.
Online classes at some universities are significantly cheaper than regular ones due to the fact you don’t have access to the same face-to-face instruction, and visual learning components.
It feels as though students end up teaching themselves the material due to the way online classes are set up.
Students around the country are starting petitions to receive tuition refunds, one of the first coming from Fordham University.
At Cal Lutheran, a petition asking Cal Lutheran to give students a partial refund has over 200 signatures.
Other schools like Boston University are currently in the process of discussing and possibly refunding students for their tuition after an uproar of students demanding change around the tuition policy.
Fordham University in New York issued a statement to their students stating that Fordham “will reduce room, board, and selected fees by 50% for the spring 2020 semester and refund any balance” that they owe students.
Fordham expects to have all of their refunds distributed by no later than May 16, 2020.
At Cal Lutheran the average cost of tuition is $45,500 and with some form of financial aid and scholarships the estimated cost is somewhere around $27,000.
Let that sink in, students are paying anywhere from $27,000 to $45,000 for online learning.
They are not receiving services promised to them such as computers in Pearson Library, workout equipment at the Forest Fitness Center, in-person therapy and support services through CAPS, and other on-campus services that are included into the price of tuition.
It is not Cal Lutheran’s fault for choosing to do online learning and having to close down campus, but as an institution who often claims to be dedicated to their students, they should be concerned about the unfairness surrounding the cost of tuition.
I for one, am glad Cal Lutheran moved to distance learning when it did, but I am concerned about the fact as a student body we are paying a hefty amount of money for inadequate services and quite frankly an inadequate education.
I appreciate the lengths professors have gone to accommodate to students and their efforts to keep school the one sense of normalcy in our lives, but it’s not the same.
No amount of Zoom calls or online powerpoints will help me learn better or amount to the same monetary value in-person learning has.
In a press release, attorney Adam Pulver argued that the system around for-profit schools is shameful, though Cal Lutheran is a non-profit, the argument stands.
“It’s outrageous that for-profit schools are still fighting to continue ripping off students, given the perilous financial circumstances student borrowers are facing due to the economic meltdown brought on by COVID-19,” said Pulver “The district court explained that this was ‘an easy case,’ but these schools have no shame.”
Most students are claimed as dependents and over the age of 17, meaning they will not receive the federal government’s COVID-19 stimulus checks, ultimately leaving them to deal with financial burden on their own.
College students have lost their jobs, internships, and for some the place they call home due to the current state of the world.
Why should students have to continue to take on the burden of paying the full price of tuition, continue to take out and have to pay back loans, and feel the financial hardship surrounding COVID 19 when the university we pay thousands of dollars for each year continue to claim that they are “here for the students”.
If Cal Lutheran really wants to claim that they are “here for the students” then prove it.