Refund CCS Students Half of Winter 2020 Tuition

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To the Board of Trustees and Administration at the College for Creative Studies,

With the global pandemic affecting over 173,000 people in the United States alone, and every person’s life being completely upended and halted, the time has come for academic industries to step up and treat their students like people instead of something to profit off of. All academic organizations in the United States are facing this situation, closing facilities down for the safety of staff and students. It is no secret that this transition to online learning at CCS has been a struggle for many students. While the college has shifted many programs that are vital to students online, these things are not enough to help many students get through the effects of COVID-19.

At this college, full-time Undergraduate students pay $1480 per credit hour. The Undergraduate tuition estimate for a full-time status student in the Winter 2020 semester is $22,200.00. This money is spent on facilities, studios, materials, computers, hands-on time with teachers, and so much more. Students are told they are investing in their future. Now, they are suddenly not getting any of this access anymore. Students do not have access to our libraries, photo studios, computers, the AVC, any of the shops, the laser cutter- the list is seemingly endless. Many design programs cannot run on personal laptops. 6 hour studio sessions are being boiled down into 1 hour video calls, there are connectivity issues and some people do not have access to computers. Nothing students have at home can equal to the facilities offered at the College.

The College is no longer having the Student Exhibition or Industry Days, which are events students not only look forward to, but need to attend to build their network. They will not have a final review week, which is something that many see as crucial to getting feedback on a year’s worth of work. Lecture series and guest speakers have been cancelled. Live demonstrations that were to be held are cancelled. What is it that we are paying for? Bi-weekly Zoom calls are not worth the years of debt and interest to follow for the amount students pay per semester.

Students are out of work, yet they are still facing rent and other bills. As of now, the earliest many could become employed again is the end of April. They still have to pay off tuition with money they may not have, may not be able to make, and may not receive as they are excluded from the government's stimulus package. Filing for unemployment has been a nightmare and many are being denied. Freelance workers cannot even apply for unemployment, and freelancing is how many artists primarily get work. This is a time of fear for many, and the government is doing little to keep us afloat. 

We are aware that this is uncharted territory for everybody. Many professors have gone above and beyond in helping their students adjust and trying to promote this time as a way to take projects through a new creative lens. Some other programs have been moved over, such as the student success center and campus therapy. These efforts are appreciated, but there is only so much they can do. COVID-19 is not a design challenge. These things are not enough to help students cope with the havoc that has unleashed on our lives. Students have chosen to attend an art school for a reason- and for the time being, that reason has been taken away from us, yet the school plans to keep the tuition of the semester where we are not getting what we paid for. 

Some students have received housing refunds, but this does not help those who commute. Summer facilities access will be useful and is a step toward helping us out. But many, many students do not live in Detroit outside of the academic year, and therefore will not be able to come to their studio spaces in the summer. 

We believe the college should do better for the students by refunding at least half of their Winter 2020 tuition. The way the academic world handles this crisis will be remembered as a reflection of how much they actually care. The School of Visual Arts has announced they are giving their students a “50% refund of department, course, and access fees” (per their email) as proof that they value their students over profit. 

The students at CCS request the following:

  • Half of Winter 2020 tuition refunded for all students
  • Grading style changed to Pass/COVID Withdrawal, with option to request letter grade to improve GPA
  • Those who withdraw from class will not receive damage to their GPA, instead the class will not be on transcript
  • Refund for students who used housing and dining plans
  • Refund of material and lab fees for Winter 2020
  • Refund of registration fee for Winter 2020

Prove to us that you care about our education, not our tuition. 


The community of the College for Creative Studies