By Stephanie Sical
Colleges and universities are throwing more weight on their students by charging them extra fees during the pandemic.
COVID-19 has caused colleges all over the country to embrace virtual learning.
Some students may be stressing with this new way of learning, but they’re also stressing about tuition and fees.
College students are used to being charged fees during the semester, such as orientation fees, lab fees, athletic fees, and Associated Student Union fees.
Even though students will not be on campus for classes or be obtaining the full college experience, they still have to pay the regular in-person fees.
Not only are students being charged their regular fees, but some colleges are also adding a fee related to the pandemic.
Colleges like Merrimack College in Massachusetts, have managed to have a few in person classes which has resulted in their students needing to participate in the college’s COVID-19 testing program.
The Merrimack College website said,“…each student will be required to pay a [COVID-19] mitigation fee each semester.”
The fee is $475 per semester for all the students who take in-person classes. Making the wallets of their students hurt is unwise. These institutions need to take steps into making testing free.
While universities like Merrimack College take advantage of their students, there are community colleges like ELAC who are putting in a much better effort to help students.
For starters when the college first closed during the spring, ELAC sent $300 to students who met the criteria, as part of the CARES Act fund.
It was the college’s way of giving its students a stimulus check.
And on April 8 ELAC partnered up with the city of Los Angeles and opened up a free COVID-19 testing site which was not only accessible to students, but also to the community.
Although colleges like ELAC says how much they care about their students, fees send mixed messages causing a drain to students during a pandemic.
Students at Merrimack are being charged for their in-class participation; there are also other colleges that are raising fees on all students, whether they are participating remotely or in-person.
Students attending the University of Michigan will be seeing a 1.9% rise in their university health fee, equalling $202.39 per student. This is in addition to a $50 temporary COVID-19 fee. The frustration of students is justified.
Former East Los Angeles College student, now at a four-year school, Janay Covarrubias, said, “College fees during a pandemic are a scam.
“They’re unfair for the lower class. I understand that teachers and professors need to get paid and all, but there are some unnecessary fees that should have been taken away.
“Like I heard some people at Universities of California had to pay around $90 for their virtual orientation.
“It’s unfair because virtual teaching takes away from the in school experience and you can see some professors aren’t putting much effort into lectures. So we are basically paying thousands just to teach ourselves.”
Community college students, just like Covarrubias, are upset. Although ELAC has done its best to provide for its students, not all of them will have a positive outcome.
International students and older students must also be accounted for. These students don’t get fee waivers, so they may have higher tuition payments.
The pandemic hits these groups of students harder because they pay out of state tuition. And there’s a high chance they’ve lost their main sources of income like millions in the country.
There’s a good portion of students who now fall under the unemployment status and are trying to manage the bare minimum with the money received from the government, to pay for rent and groceries.
Students shouldn’t have to choose between essentials and a semester of school. Education should be an essential.
Why should students be stressed to pay hundreds and thousands to be learning virtually when it can be twice as hard as in person learning? The answer is they shouldn’t.