Student News

Colleges Respond to Coronavirus with Tuition Discounts

Learn all about the tuition discounts, tuition freezes and refunds that colleges are offering now.

Kathryn Knight Randolph

June 05, 2020

Colleges Respond to Coronavirus with Tuition Discounts
As retailers and restaurants begin opening, you may notice that they’re offering steep discounts on their products. For months, these businesses have been closed, and they want to entice consumers back to their brands to prevent going out of business. As it turns out, colleges are no different in these unprecedented times. For years, colleges have been able to increase their tuition prices at an average of 3% every year, according to College Board. However, the Coronavirus outbreak has caused a lot of uncertainty for recent high school graduates and college students. Looking for more COVID-19 student-impact information? Find it here. In light of disruptions to the college experience students had during the spring semester, many are opting to attend a community college closer to home or take a gap year. As a result, colleges are in danger of taking a huge financial hit, and some may even need to close for good. In response, institutions are offering discounts or freezing tuition to entice students to stick with them through online learning or to have them come back to campus.

Colleges Offering Tuition Discounts

When a school offers a tuition discount, it doesn’t look the same as a retailer slashing prices. Rather, tuition and fees will still look the same, but the college will offer more scholarships and grants to help alleviate college costs. Other schools will cover the cost of tuition for students whose families fall below a set income threshold. Essentially, each school will do things a little differently but the end goal is the same: to lower the cost of attending. Inside Higher Ed rounded up some schools that have recently announced college tuition discounts: • The University of Nebraska will be covering all tuition and fees for students whose families make less than $60,000 a year. • Albion College in Michigan announced a similar program. They will cover tuition and fees for students whose families make less than $65,000 per year and provide, at minimum, $92,000 in scholarships over the course of four years for students whose families make more. • Thomas University in Georgia is offering a 30% tuition discount to individuals that lost their jobs or hours as a result of Coronavirus and are searching for continuing education options. • The University of Maine will allow any student in the U.S. whose college was closed completely as a result of Coronavirus to pay in-state tuition and fees. It is still fairly early in the summer, and it is likely that more schools will begin advertising tuition discounts to students. If you’re curious as to whether or not your college is offering a discount, check the latest Coronavirus update on their website or contact the admissions or financial aid offices via email or phone.

Colleges Freeze Tuition As Well

Just as some colleges are offering tuition discounts, others are announcing a tuition freeze for the 2020-21 school year. As stated earlier, institutions of higher education typically increase their tuition and fees by 3% each year. A tuition freeze means that the college will keep the price the same as it was the previous school year; in this case the 2019 – 20 academic year. NBC reports that some schools, like the College of William & Mary, Delaware Valley University and Kansas City University, have already announced tuition freezes. Virginia Tech just approved a tuition freeze this week. Further, countless other colleges are in the process of meeting and approving tuition freezes. The chances that your school could be added to the list are high. Just like tuition discounts, students should check their college’s website or contact the school directly to ask about a tuition freeze. As soon as colleges make the decision, they will also inform students via a mass communication method such as email or social media.

College Students Push for Refunds from the Spring Semester

In the spring, many campuses closed abruptly, forcing students out of their housing completely and denying them access to cafeterias, academic buildings, and athletic facilities. These are, however, amenities that they paid for. In response, students are asking for a refund. NBC states that many colleges are offering refunds on room and board – or crediting the amount to the student’s account to be used when the college reopens and college life resumes in the new normal. However, some schools are not offering refunds of any kind or they’re not satisfying the true amount that students feel they should be reimbursed. As a result, several lawsuits have been filed against schools like, Boston, Georgetown, Vanderbilt University and Brown, according to NBC. Though some schools have refunded room and board costs to students, they are not relenting on the tuition and fees. Steve Berman, managing partner of Seattle-based Hagens Berman which is representing the students, told NBC that “the quality of the education they now receive is just not the same.”

Negotiating Your Financial Aid Package

While there is little students can do to force their college to offer a discount or announce a tuition freeze, there is one thing they can do to help themselves right now: negotiate a better financial aid package. Many students don’t realize that the financial aid package they receive is negotiable. If you’re a high school senior or recent high school graduate, you can actually use financial aid packages that you received from other schools to leverage a better deal at your number one college choice. In these times, colleges want students just as much as a student wants them; and given the financial strain schools are feeling now, they may be more lenient with the money they give away to entice students to attend. At the same time, your family’s financial circumstances may have changed over the course of the last few months, weeks, even days. USA Today reports that another 1.9 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits just last week, making the overall total 42.6 million. If this – or any other circumstances – have caused your family’s financial outlook to change, you need to notify your college immediately. Financial aid officers can make professional judgment calls on your aid package. They can provide you with more grants or financial need scholarships. If you’re on the fence about what to do next semester, you may want to wait and see what your college has to offer. Perhaps they’ll have discounts, tuition freezes, or offer you a financial aid package that you can’t refuse. You may also want to consider enrolling at your local community college or taking a gap year. Though it can feel as if you don’t have freedom to live out the college experience you hoped this year, you do have plenty of choices when it comes to how, where and the amount you want to pay on your college education next semester.

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