Student News

Colleges Offer Free Tuition, Discounts Due to Coronavirus

More than 25 universities are offering big tuition adjustments in light of an uncertain college-campus season.

Shawna Newman

August 18, 2020

Colleges Offer Free Tuition, Discounts Due to Coronavirus
Tuition discounts from universities are being offered as courses move online this fall.
As the fall college semester is set to begin within weeks, parents and students are wondering if and how tuition fees will be affected by Coronavirus. And while universities are still managing school reopening plans, students and parents are hesitant to come back to a non-active campus with online lectures, to still pay the full tuition sticker price. Nearly half of college-bound high school seniors reported they would either defer enrollment or look at enrolling in another college if classes were to go remote this fall, as reported by Inside Higher Education. A Forbes article reports 93% of college students feel they should get a tuition discount if their classes are moved to an online classroom. Looking for more COVID-19 student-impact information? Find it here.
While COVID-19 looms over U.S. campuses, college presidents and administrators can’t help but to hear the mumbles of pushback from students and parents. Big tuition adjustments are beginning to trickle in as university leaders want to eliminate “empty seats” this fall. These adjustments include tuition reductions and freezes -- and even free tuition. As the list continues to grow, we’ve worked to gather a comprehensive list of U.S. colleges making big tuition adjustments.

Tuition Reductions

According to CNBC, The Washington Post, and University Business here are just a few schools offering reductions for the fall 2020 semester:
University of Pennsylvania – Pennsylvania: 10 percent reduction in student general fees and students will be refunded any housing and dining charges John Hopkins University – Massachusetts: 10 percent reduction in fall tuition National University – California: 25 percent reduction in tuition for undergraduate students Hampton University – Virginia: 15 percent reduction in tuition and fees Spelman College – Georgia : 40 percent fee discount and a 10 percent tuition reduction for remote students Paul Quinn College – Texas: lowering the cost of attendance by $2,325
Rutgers University – New Jersey: 15 percent campus fee reduction Georgetown University – Washington, D.C.: Five percent tuition reduction. William College – Massachusetts: 15 percent cost discount Princeton University – New Jersey: 10 percent tuition discount Clark Atlanta University – Georgia: 10 percent tuition discount

Tuition Freezes

CNBC and report the following private and public universities are hoping to gain and keep students with tuition freezes: College of William & Mary – Virginia Central Michigan – Michigan University of Pennsylvania – Pennsylvania Delaware Valley – Pennsylvania Kansas City University – Missouri Central Michigan – Michigan University System of Maryland UMass Systems – Massachusetts North Carolina Public Universities Lehigh University – Pennsylvania Bucknell University – Pennsylvania Duke University – North Carolina

Free Tuition, Scholarship Offers

Education Dive, University Business and Inside Higher Education report some colleges are even offering free tuition models to keep students in school. So far, these universities include: West Chester University – Pennsylvania: Students will get six free credit hours in the winter and summer sessions. National University – California: Existing scholarships for Pell-eligible students to earn a bachelor's degree for free were doubled. A $30 million scholarship was developed for displaced workers. Pacific Lutheran University – Washington: Full-time undergraduates that complete the full 2020-21 academic year are eligible for a free tuition to finish their degree. Full-time graduate students are eligible for free continuing education credits. St. Norbert College – Wisconsin: Full-time undergraduates that complete the full 2020-21 academic year are eligible for a free tuition, ninth semester. Belhaven University – Mississippi: Full-time undergraduates enrolled in campus-based programs are eligible for a full-tuition scholarship for an online master’s degree from Belhaven. Southern New Hampshire University – New Hampshire: Full-tuition scholarships for incoming freshmen and a $21,000 cost reduction for sophomores, juniors and seniors.

Students Speak Up

As colleges follow the Centers for Disease Control’s recommendations for institutions of higher education, students may find their college engaging in lower-risk classroom, activity and event settings. According to the CDC this would mean a virtual only college experience. Research group Mckinsey found that less that more than: 75 percent of students are not “confident they can get a quality education through remote classes.” 80 percent are not “confident they can build relationships in a remote environment.” NPR Podcast, Planet Money shares the story of a Rutgers University student, Shreya Patel, concerned the movement to online courses wasn’t what she agreed to pay for. Patel broke down her semester costs and found that more than $1,300 of semester charges were student fees. Fees are often acquired by universities to fund student activities, technology access, and other event-driven happenings. Patel felt student fees shouldn’t be required for fall 2020 semester. She started a tuition petition on, that led to more than 25,000 signatures resulting in a campus fee reduction at Rutgers.

Help Paying for School

Here are three solutions if you have found yourself in a unique financial situation due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  1. Take advantage of summer melt.
  2. Summer melt is a college admissions buzzword that can mean extra money for you. If a student changes their mind on attending a college, they also give back their financial aid package. As summer melt occurs universities earn back more financial aid funds and can provide even more funds to students that need it. This year, summer melt is anticipated to be big, as students are still adjusting their plans into August. Now is a great time to reach out to your financial aid office to see if more financial aid is available.
  3. Keep applying for scholarships.
  4. You should always be applying for scholarships. This includes college students – even those at the graduate level! Create a Fastweb profile to be matched to scholarships that fit you, your major and any unique circumstances. Here are a few scholarship lists to get you started. Scholarships for the Class of 2021 Scholarships for the Class of 2022 Scholarships for College Students
  5. Find financial help with student loans.
  6. Sometimes students and parents find themselves looking for money to help them pay for college - even after completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and receiving Federal student loans. Add the current American economic situation and there may be even more of a need for students to find extra financial help via student loans.
Did your college offer a tuition freeze, reduction or student-fee discounts for the fall 2020 semester? Maybe leadership at your school put a stop to tuition rate increases this year? Not all colleges and universities have the financial ability to reduce tuition. In a few cases, to offer the best solution available, planned tuition increases have been halted at some colleges. Current college students: Please share your current college tuition experiences by commenting on this article.

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