BYU students question tuition costs if fall classes stay remote

Students are questioning whether they’ll have to pay full tuition if all classes are moved online for Fall Semester 2020. (Photo illustration by Sarah Hill)

Many students are questioning what a remote Fall Semester would mean for them, specifically regarding tuition.

The question of whether or not students should be paying full tuition for online classes is one that has come up at universities across the country since the coronavirus forced schools to shut down. It lends itself to the question commonly discussed every time a tuition increase has been announced over the years: What does students’ tuition pay for?

Officials from both Utah State University and the University of Utah have announced that they will be holding in-person classes this fall. BYU officials have yet to make a decision on the subject, but they have told students that the announcement should come sometime in July.

Since BYU is a private university, the school is not required to release budget information. In October of 2019 BYU announced that there would be a 3.1% increase in tuition for the 2020-2021 school year. A statement released by the university stated that the increase would “cover cost increases in areas such as supplies, library and laboratory materials and travel.”

At Utah Valley University, 12.5% of student tuition goes towards supplies and equipment for classes, according to the UVU truth in tuition hearing information released in March. UVU President Astrid S. Tuminez asked the Utah State Board of Regents permission to delay a tuition increase that was supposed to happen at the beginning of Summer Semester.

According to BYU’s financial services COVID-19 FAQs page, “There are no current plans to reduce published tuition rates for Winter Semester or future semesters and terms.”

BYU senior Jordyn Fail said she doesn’t think BYU should charge full tuition if students aren’t allowed on campus to use the facilities.

“If we’re paying for certain supplies and amenities that we’re not using, then I feel like that’s dishonest,” Fail said.

Fail is an art major from South Jordan, Utah and she said she needs access to the BYU art studios to be able to effectively learn. She said she believes an entire semester online would be the hardest part of her college experience so far.

Kelcie Curtis will start her freshman year at BYU this fall an hopes that classes will be on campus because she doesn’t want to lose out on the social aspect of college, especially since it will be her first experience with it.

“I was really excited, getting out of high school, to meet new people and branch out and learn and grow in that way,” Curtis said.

Curtis said reducing the price of tuition makes sense because students are losing that part of the college experience.

Recent BYU graduate Margaret Mercer said she agrees. Mercer said that in her experience, her tuition paid for a lot more than just the classes that she attended.

“It buys you the degree, but it also buys you everything you learn along the way,” Mercer said, “It buys you the opportunity to do extracurriculars, to do things that you just want to do because they’re fun, and I think it also buys you the experience of being on campus, being at school and being among your peers.”

BYU is making an effort to assist students who are having financial difficulties because of the coronavirus pandemic. On May 18 the school sent a message out to students, inviting them to apply for COVID-19 relief funds using a questionnaire that was linked to the message. This questionnaire will be available until June 1, and students will be notified if they qualify for funds by June 8.

BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins said she doesn’t want speculate about the question of tuition yet because “our focus right now is on how we can bring our students and faculty together on campus this fall.”

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