Photo by Gabriel Benois on Unsplash
California Lutheran University continued virtual instruction this fall and it took time for many students who had never used Zoom—like myself—to adjust.
Despite many students not being on campus to access resources such as the Pearson Library, Forrest Fitness Center and Student Union study spaces—not to mention the majority of classes being online instead of running fluorescent classroom lights for 12 hours per day—Cal Lutheran is still charging the same amount in tuition.
In my opinion, Cal Lutheran should’ve lowered the tuition cost because it does not feel like we are getting the same experience as we would during an in-person semester.
Being a first-generation college student means that I face additional hurdles, like not having consistent WiFi at home, nor a space to concentrate and get work done.
While the university is providing WiFi hotspots and outdoor study spaces on campus, some of us do not have the opportunity to access this due to proximity to campus, or obligations at home.
On top of that, I am not working full time because I am a full time student.
I get paid monthly, which is not enough to pay both my tuition and for basic necessities like food, shelter and water.
It’s not just me; the pandemic has made it difficult for many college students to pay their tuition.
Jobs are harder to come by and some people are not getting unemployment due to a backlog at various state employment security departments.
During these times, some students may rely on their parents’ income.
If their parents are also unemployed, it is hard to expect them to pay bills, let alone college tuition.
An article from CNBC stated, “According to a survey of 13,606 college students in the United States by study guide platform OneClass, more than 93% of U.S. students believe that if classes are fully held online, tuition should be lowered.”
According to the same CNBC article, the survey also found that 75% of college students are unsatisfied with the quality of online classes and 35% of students are withdrawing from school.
Taylor Brown, a senior and Social Media Manager of Cal Lutheran’s Black Student Union, said that there was a lack of communication from the university regarding emergency financial assistance.
“Well I think, personally speaking, I would have liked a discount, even if it’s not a full discount,” Brown said. “I feel like a lot of people, especially in this time, we don’t know how everyone’s home life and financial life either already was, or if it’s gotten worse because of the pandemic.”
In July, BSU started a petition asking Cal Lutheran to lower tuition for the year that was slated to begin online.
The petition received 1,178 signatures in support of lowering the tuition cost for the fall semester.
Brown said that BSU had been wondering about a tuition discount, but was waiting to see if Cal Lutheran would announce one before starting a petition.
After not hearing anything by mid-July, they launched the petition.
“That’s kind of where the petition started. Because the rest of us are all sitting here, like if I’m not going to be on campus, and I’m not going to be able to do all these things, what am I paying for? What am I paying $60,000 a year for when I can pay a lot less and just go to, you know, a community college or school that’s already based online,” Brown said.
Brown said a couple of her friends chose not to go back to Cal Lutheran this year.
“Actually one of my roommates decided to not continue at Cal Lutheran,” she said. “So literally the last time we saw her was when we all left campus in March, and she decided to not come back.”
In my experience, I feel that trying to navigate this time as a first generation college student makes it very difficult, and not working makes it even harder to pay for books, let alone tuition.