Charge MinnState students intended-format tuition rate for fall courses

Charge MinnState students intended-format tuition rate for fall courses

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Anna Lehn started this petition to MN State Colleges and Universities Systems Leaders

Dear MN State College and University (MinnState) Leaders,

On June 15, 2020, in an email titled "Important Fall Semester Updates" students at Metropolitan State learned of MinnState's intent to charge us an “online differential tuition rate” for our fall 2020 courses which have been forced, due to pandemic, to take place online (scroll to June 15 email under Messages to Students here for reference).

Normally, at Metropolitan State these courses would be face-to-face, charged $420/credit for resident graduate students and $234/credit for resident undergraduates. The online credit rates, by contrast, are $547/credit for graduates and $310/credit for undergraduates. That's $127/credit more for graduates and $76/credit more for undergraduates. Metropolitan State is offering $25-42/credit COVID relief, but that leaves us paying $51-85 more per credit because a pandemic forced us to move classes online. That's unethical.

Moreover, this change has not been promptly or clearly communicated to staff or students. Many students and staff remain unaware of the change, which has been disguised within emails under a “COVID Relief for Online Courses” heading. Many students are panicking as they first witness these increased costs on their recently posted fall tuition bills on MinnState's Eservices platform, and early August tuition deadlines are already rapidly approaching. Students may not have requested enough financial aid to cover this additional cost. Other students who are paying out of pocket will have to scramble to find hundreds of extra dollars.

As students, we know the quality of instruction and learning are compromised by the sudden transition to online learning. Why are Minnesota State Colleges and Universities charging us more for classes that were never intended to be taught online, during a period of growing financial crisis in America?

We believe Minnesota State Colleges and Universities should charge us for fall courses at their pre-pandemic, intended format rate. The institutions have not made credible arguments for transitioning to online tuition rates. They have not given students fair and clear warning about the rate increases. They have not made provisions for the increased financial burdens this places on students during a crisis. They do not have standing to charge us more for classes whose quality they know is compromised.

In no way is this “COVID Relief.” This is a $51-85/credit tuition increase at Metropolitan State alone. Format-change-induced increases like these across the system are set to cost the Minnesota State College and University student community tens of thousands of dollars during a financial crisis.

Metropolitan State's mission, like many MinnState colleges and universities, is to support traditionally underserved communities pursue higher education. They pride themselves in being a student-centered institution. But placing these costs on students' shoulders is a fiscally-centered decision. The underserved communities you've committed to serve--students with families, students of color, first generation students--are often those hit hardest by pandemic job-loss, hour-decrease, child care-loss, and the burdens of sickness at home and among loved ones.

Reverse this decision. Charge us for fall courses at their pre-pandemic, intended format rates.

Sincerely,

Students, Faculty, and Staff of Metropolitan State University and other Minnesota State Colleges and Universities

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