A tuition breakdown and a breakdown over tuition
The one thing about college life at the university that has not changed due to this pandemic is the cost of attending college.
Many students may have chosen to spend the semester at home, eliminating the costs associated with living on-campus. However, tuition and fees have largely remained unchanged, despite the switch to nearly total virtual instruction.
University of Delaware Tuition & Fees Per Semester
Despite claims from the provost and the university, statistics and data show that costs have actually risen for tuition. While the university claims they have reduced comprehensive fees by 15%, the total cost of tuition and fees per semester is higher than last year.
Last school year, the cost of tuition and fees for a semester rang in at $7,140 for in-state students and $17,855 for out-of-state students. This year, the cost rose to $7,325 for in-state students and $18,040 for out-of-state students. This accounts for inflation for out-of-state students, but for in-state, it surpasses inflation.
The university justified the fact that students will still pay for comprehensive fees even if everything is online by saying, “The Student Wellbeing Fee continues to provide medical and health services, both in person and virtually, for every full-time student. Students can schedule virtual appointments with Student Health Services and online counseling sessions with the Center for Counseling and Student Development. The Comprehensive Fee and Student Center Fees continue to support a wide range of student support and engagement opportunities, including the UD Career Center, diversity and inclusion programming, the recreation center (Little Bob), the Office of the Dean of Students and other units, as well as the nearly 400 registered student organizations ([RSOs]) at the university.
These are essential services to help students find internships and jobs, and help students connect with each other through shared interests and goals. [RSOs] will continue to host meetings virtually, eSports remain available as well as other programming.”
Many students will not have access to the recreation center and the eSports arena due to the fact that they are not living in the Newark area this semester, however.
Generally, the choice to not adjust tuition for online learning is consistent across colleges across the country. Universities nationwide anticipate huge losses in the fall, with the university’s anticipated loss between $75 and $100 million according to provost Robin Morgan, and a decrease in tuition would have compounded it.
Some outlier universities, including Princeton and Georgetown, have adjusted their tuition and fees.
However, an analysis of comparable colleges in the area, including the University of Maryland (UMD), Pennsylvania State University and Delaware State University (DSU) showed instances where colleges either decided to leave tuition and fees stagnant or increase them for the Spring and Fall semesters.
In-State Tuition & Fees Per Semester
Out-of-state Tuition & Fees Per Semester
The petition states:
“As colleges and universities around the country are forced to move online due to COVID-19, the University of Delaware fails to align their interests with the interests of their students and their families regarding tuition costs. Other institutions have begun to or have already revised their tuition costs for their students to reflect the loss of quality in the college experience. The University of Delaware should follow suit, as there are numerous aspects of the campus life that many cannot experience this semester. The transition to the online delivery of classes significantly lowers the quality of education available to students. This includes no in-person interaction with an instructor, no hands-on laboratory learning, and more generally, no academic environment that many need in order to stay motivated. In a time of challenging financial circumstances, UD should play its part to ensure that students and families meet their academic goals.”
Students have commented on the petition, and the common thread of their responses is that online instruction is not equivalent to in-person instruction.
Certain educators across the country are expressing frustration with students who wish to have tuition lowered for online classes.
Elizabeth Cohen, a professor and political scientist at Syracuse University, said on Twitter, “Working at a college or university right now is hearing a lot of people say that they should pay less for something you’re working twice as hard to make available for them.”
Working at a college or university right now is hearing a lot of people say that they should pay less for something you’re working twice as hard to make available for them.
— Dr. Elizabeth Sacha Baroness Cohen (@alixabeth) August 7, 2020
The Office of Communications and Marketing (OCM) at the university said in a public statement that the time, energy and training put into the preparation of online classes this summer provides for high-quality courses worthy of full tuition.
“UD faculty, instructors and teaching assistants have been working very hard this summer to prepare high-quality online courses for the fall semester. While the class experience will be different, UD’s commitment to academic excellence remains as strong as ever…” Andrea Boyle Tippett, the director of external relations, said in the statement. “Our institutional efforts are being led by these seasoned online instructors, as well as faculty who are leading national experts in online teaching effectiveness. What’s more, UD’s online teaching hub has provided training or consultation to nearly 700 faculty members who will teach in the fall semester. As a result of these efforts, we estimate that faculty have created or refreshed over 1,300 online courses to date, and the number is growing.”
Morgan added that the Board of Trustees ultimately settled on not lowering tuition because this semester’s model of instruction actually increased cost to deliver academic programs.
“This is due to the expense of computer equipment, software, instructional technology expertise, and other investments made in education technology to ensure that students can continue their academic progress and graduate on time,” Morgan said in an email.
Furthermore, OCM claimed that “many students have told us they found their online courses this past spring to be effective, appreciating the flexibility and novel approaches to teaching and learning they offered; we expect to build on that for an even better experience this fall.”
While a certain group of students may have told them they found their online courses last semester successful, a group of students at the university who are suing the university over this matter would beg to differ.
This lawsuit is one of 110 lawsuits against colleges and universities regarding the Spring 2020 semester. These lawsuits seek a partial refund of tuition for Spring 2020 payments. Several New York attorneys are working on the lawsuit against the university, as well as others across the country. Just three law firms are behind half of these filings.
The lawsuit against the university states that the switch to online learning stripped students of the “opportunity for collaborative learning and in-person dialogue, feedback and critique.” Furthermore, the lawsuit argues that in past semesters, the university has offered lower tuition rates for online credits.
Unlike the Spring 2020 semester, this semester, the university offered students up to 6 credits to float from the Fall to Winter session or Summer session. The combined total of the Winter, Summer, and Fall credits must be 18 – any higher, and the student will pay regular tuition costs.
The university stated that “this will allow students who feel challenged by the online learning environment the opportunity to take a lighter course load this fall and then catch up on their credits in a later session.”
Morgan encourages students to “give fall 2020 a chance.”
“Faculty and professionals all over campus have invested very significant resources and time into making fall 2020 the best it can be despite the coronavirus pandemic,” Morgan said in an email. “While the opportunities for student engagement will be different, we urge students to take advantage of them and to provide both feedback on what we are offering and new ideas about what students think would be helpful.”
The actual effectiveness of online courses and the fate of the lawsuit against the university have yet to be determined. Nonetheless, college tuition has steadily ticked up over the course of years, but the current situation has brought it to a boiling point.