The classic Education Connection jingle has become the theme song for most college students across America, with the nostalgic and suddenly all too relevant line “I’m taking my classes online.” Unfortunately for us, we aren’t getting our degrees “on our own time” or with the cost-effective tuition of an online university.
After classes were canceled for several weeks and then moved online, the University issued a need-based COVID-19 relief stipend to students tanging from $150-$1,000. Even the highest stipend, though generous and useful, didn’t make up even one tenth of tuition paid for the spring semester. Given the circumstances and unprecedented times, however, most students accepted the semester for what it was with or without a refund.
More planning has gone into the fall semester, however, and the University has already released a Roadmap to Fall 2020 which lays out exactly how they hope to conduct classes throughout the semester. With Fall Break being canceled, having all classes and finals being moved online after Thanksgiving, students may feel they’re not really getting the education and experience they’ve paid for.
LSU students are expected to pay the normal $48 “building use fee” for the fall semester despite only having access on-campus buildings for half the semester, according to LSU Office of Finance and Administration. Additionally, students received two emails, on June 15 and July 8 respectively, about parking permit registration for the coming academic year. The pass fee for all student zones - Commuter, Greek Life and Residential - is still $182. No option was given for a reduced fee for commuting students who will no longer require a pass after Thanksgiving.
Students who previously relied on campus jobs to make ends meet during the semester might not have the option to work remotely once classes are back online meaning that a larger than average percentage of the student population will already be facing financial strain.
LSU’s estimated undergraduate tuition for the 2020-21 academic year is $11,962 in-state and $28,639 out-of-state. For a traditional college experience, the University’s tuition isn’t shocking, but as far as online degree programs go, it’s unheard of. Tennessee State’s online tuition for undergraduates is as low as $4,200, but the average online tuition is around $6,000, according to OnlineU.
While LSU students are expecting a traditional class experience for half of the semester, the University should strongly consider a reduced tuition for the fall semester to account for the transition to online classes. Reducing tuition would incentivize students to continue their enrollment with the University instead of taking time off or choosing to pursue a career without a degree.
Reducing tuition for the upcoming semester might interfere with the University’s economic status in the short-term, but losing students will definitely impact the University in the long-term.
Marie Plunkett is a 21-year-old Classical Studies major from New Orleans, Louisiana.