The Impact of COVID-19 on College Tuition

By Becca Gill, Layout Editor, May 2020

Is online education worth the normal tuition that is being paid? Deferring a year, transferring to less costly schools, or no longer attending school at all are choices that are circulating among current and incoming college students. 

Students are taking action regarding their concerns with tuition. At Columbia, the University of California, Northwestern, and Drexel, students are launching online petitions in an effort to receive refunds. Some have decided to further apply direct pressure to their institutions, arguing the quality of learning does not correlate with the amount they are paying for their education. For example, Miami and Drexel Universities are currently facing a lawsuit filed by students demanding tuition reimbursement for the spring semester. However, students are not the only ones faced with financial worries.

Nationally, colleges continue to watch their endowments weaken amid growing demand for financial aid as families are affected by the rise in unemployment. Additionally, admissions offices are uneasy when considering the return of international students, particularly those from Asia. The majority of international students pay full tuition, which translates into a large source of revenue. In addition to the potential loss of students, colleges are faced with having to pay back many of their students for the lost semester. For example, Missouri State University has lost $7.6 million in funding from the state and has to pay back its students. 

(Above: Michigan State University, )

Colleges’ responses to their new financial strain vary dramatically. Penn State University, Rutgers, and Temple are currently awaiting board approval to maintain tuition cost in the upcoming academic year in an attempt to salvage their losses. On the other side of the spectrum, Southern New Hampshire University has announced its plan to cut tuition for campus-based learning models by 61%, amounting to cuts of $10,000 annually. The institution is also making scholarships available for all incoming freshmen to cover their first-year tuition. 

However, many schools are not limiting themselves to these two options. Penn State University is moving towards a plan of freezing tuition in the 2020-2021 academic year, which would restrict increases in tuition for its students. Additionally, Davidson College is offering students the option to defer payment for the fall semester in an attempt to compensate for the mental toll the coronavirus has created and to relieve families who are unable to pay in the fall.

Most institutions remain unaware of how to move forward, and many are also choosing to wait longer (such as until the summer) before making any changes to student life. 


  • Black Instagram Icon
  • YouTube - Black Circle