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Leave it to colleges and universities to continue charging exorbitant fees even as students are unable to attend class in-person due to the ongoing coronavirus lockdown.
Multiple schools from across the country will be hiking tuition for the upcoming academic year, The Washington Free Beacon reported.
“The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), New York University, the University of Southern California (USC), and Indiana University are among several universities raising tuition and other fees in the upcoming academic year. These institutions will raise the cost of tuition and living expenses by an average of $1,511 while minimizing services, amenities, and in-person classroom learning,” the outlet reported.
“Tuition hikes come as universities struggle to adapt to the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced schools to send students home from campus and adopt alternative teaching methods. Colleges fear tuition revenue will decrease as they transition to online programming, but students are more concerned that they are paying exorbitant rates with little return,” the Free Beacon continued.
Schools that returned Free Beacon inquiries defended the tuition increases by claiming the decisions were made before the coronavirus. For example, University of Illinois spokesman Jan Dennis told the outlet that the university would not reduce costs but would increase financial aid.
“The tuition increase was approved in January, before the pandemic,” Dennis told the Free Beacon. “[The University of Illinois] system created a new fund that will provide at least $36 million to help students facing increased financial need due to COVID.”
For reference, the outlet noted, UIUC “received $1.9 billion in taxpayer funds in 2019.”
In addition to limiting classroom education and social distancing in classrooms that do continue, the school will also cut back on the number of students in residence halls (while increasing living fees) and make the campus dining centers take-out only.
USC was set to similarly limit students but walked back the decision, the outlet reported.
The moves from these universities have riled students who were already upset at having to pay full tuition despite canceled or reduced classes in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. MarketWatch reported in late May that more than 100 lawsuits had been filed by students seeking refunds. Attorneys who spoke to the outlet expressed concern with some of the lawsuits and raised questions the students may face in their pursuit, such as whether contracts with colleges promise in-person classes. One attorney suggested at least some of the students might not have standing if their parents are paying for their education or if they have a scholarship.
Attorney Hassan Zavareei, who is representing several students in multiple lawsuits, explained to the outlet that schools market campus life while trying to attract students to attend.
“The school provides education and it provides room and board and provides services. In exchange for that, you give them the consideration of money. What we are trying to do is to enforce that contract,” Zavareei told the outlet.