Editor’s Column: My Educational Experience Is Being Reduced So Why Isn’t My Tuition?

Isabella Chan, Editor-In-Chief

In the last few months, I have come to loathe the word “normal,” because things will not be returning to normal for a long time. The world is in a troubling state and there is no denying that the need to adapt is critical, but that doesn’t change the fact that online learning does not equate to the learning experience inside of a classroom.

Therefore, any college or university willing to alter their quality of education for students without properly adjusting their tuition rates and fees, in my opinion, is conniving and dishonorable. Earning a degree is a costly decision and is thought of as an investment for the future, but this feels like a deal gone wrong.

My access to campus services are reduced. Not to mention, a majority, if not all classes are taught virtually, and yet I still have to pay the same rates and fees as if things are “normal.” In simple terms: we’ve been swindled and it’s ludicrous.

For many state colleges and universities, including Central Connecticut, tuition rates and fees are administered by the state legislature and a board of executives. All decisions are made at the board’s discretion, including if tuition rates and fees will be discounted, frozen or increased.

At the beginning of February 2020, Connecticut State Colleges and Universities announced tuition and fees at the four state universities will increase by “an average of 3.8 percent for commuter students and 3.3 percent for resident students. In total, this means an average annual increase of just over $400 for commuter students and just over $800 for residents.”

One would believe that because of the extenuating circumstances brought upon by COVID-19 a freeze would be in order, but months later the decision to increase tuition still stands and has yet to be reversed. Maybe their argument is “online learning isn’t that bad,” but if someone on the board had to learn statistics through a Zoom meeting then I’m sure they’d feel differently.

I am well aware that this is a double-edged sword; without a tuition increase, institutions may have a budget crisis to face, including pay cuts, layoffs and furloughs. But is that worth the price of experiencing a drop in student enrollment and retention? 

In order to forgo lower rates, some institutions have chosen against a tuition freeze/increase. Already, Spelman College, Princetown University, Georgetown University and others, have banded together to create a 10 percent cut to their tuition. Along with that, Southern New Hampshire University has made efforts to aid students by offering incoming freshmen full-tuition scholarships and promised to cut tuition by 61 percent for the next academic year. 

Similar adjustments should be made across all higher education platforms because the change to online learning heavily impacts a student’s livelihood. While a tuition decrease for one or two academic years may momentarily impair an institution, the reduced quality in education will impact a student for the rest of their life. 

I appreciate the proactiveness and adjustments made in order to create a learning environment during this time, but we all can agree that it is not the same nor conventional. I am not asking for the university or others to give me what I paid for because it is simply not possible at this time. What I am asking them to do is to consider their students’ futures and fight for a tuition decrease.

After all, universities love to say we are one big, happy family, so it’s time to start acting like one.