Concession of college fees for the students as they are not in condition due to Covid-19.

Concession of college fees for the students as they are not in condition due to Covid-19.

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Utsav Mishra started this petition to Allahabad High Court and

Not long after the COVID-19 pandemic caused colleges to start teaching remote students balked at the idea of paying full tuition for online learning. It’s not hard to understand why. After all, they were not getting the football and basketball games, student clubs, access to labs and the library, and the out-of-class conversations that are all part of the typical campus experience.

Although students who study online will not pay the room, board, and activities fees that typically cover nonacademic costs, concern about paying full tuition continues this fall, as many universities opt to continue online instruction in the interest of keeping students, faculty, and staff safe from the pandemic.

Is it right to expect to pay less tuition for online learning? Or are colleges justified in charging the full tuition price when classes – at least at many schools – won’t be taking place on campus? As longtime college admissions and enrollment leader – and now as a professor of higher education – I have some insights. One of the most important is that fewer than one in five families pay the full price for in-person instruction, to begin with. They are getting breakthrough scholarships and need-based grants from the colleges. In other words, most students are already getting a discount.

Financial aid factors
Even if schools offered "online discounts," it may not make as big a difference as people think because of the way that financial aid works.

At four-year public and nonprofit private colleges and universities, 85% of undergraduates receive financial aid. These students not only benefit from a list price that is lower than the cost borne by colleges, but they are getting a further discount in price through financial aid.

This leads to an important point.

Financial aid is based on the price charged minus what a family would be expected to pay, based on a federal formula. So, if tuition were lowered, students would get less financial aid and would therefore be expected to pay the same amount of money no matter what the tuition charge.

As a result, even at the colleges offering an online discount, the students who need that discount the most are going to benefit the least. For example, if tuition is US$40,000 and you are expected to pay $10,000, you might get $30,000 in various forms of aid. If tuition is reduced to $36,000, you are still expected to pay $10,000, and you might get $26,000 in aid.

The tab for tuition does not generally cover out-of-class experiences such as student activities and residence hall functions. When going remote, colleges will not be charging residence hall, food and activities fees. That means colleges will lose revenue on those things. They will lay off some staff who work with student groups.

So while charges for room and board and student activities and athletics fees will be eliminated for online-only instruction, tuition pricing will either be untouched or be slightly reduced. But the ability for a college to reduce tuition will depend largely on the school's financial health.

Skepticism and potential benefit
Predictably, many students are not convinced that online instruction will be of the same quality as in-person. Plus, many students are understandably upset because they did not expect to spend their college days doing remote learning.

But there is a potential long-term benefit.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced higher education leaders to control costs by changing priorities and eliminating nonessential spending in ways that they didn’t have to think as much about doing before. As a result, perhaps tuition increases will moderate in the short term, and stay more affordable in the future. After all of the stress and pain caused by the pandemic, this may be one positive change.

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