Frustrated by Elon University not promising to lower tuition costs if the school is forced to turn to remote learning, Elon students have started a petition.
The statement on the fall 2020 billing statement said regardless of the type of instruction, tuition would not be refunded for the 2020-21 school year.
“Tuition and fees are paid by students in exchange for learning, academic credit, and certain non-academic services that will be provided whether in person, in a hybrid environment, or entirely remotely,” said the disclosure statement on the Ready & Resilient website.
This means that students would not be refunded their tuition, student activity and health services fees if the university chooses to go to remote learning.
Elon junior Mira Sanderson started this petition where she wrote that students should be refunded for the money they are paying if they are not having in-person classes or living on campus.
Sanderson did not respond to Elon News Network’s multiple requests for comment.
Bursar Jay Harper forwarded Elon News Networks request for comment to University Communications.
Director of Elon University News Bureau Owen Covington said the university plans on having in-person learning for the fall semester, but if the university had to go to remote learning, tuition would remain the same. Covington said that housing and meal plan costs are separate from the tuition cost.
According to the Bursar’s Office, tuition for the fall semester at Elon is $18,707.00 plus fees for student activities and health services. A full year of tuition is $37,414.00 plus fees. This does not include the cost of housing and meal plans.
“In the unlikely event that the university shifts to remote learning for a portion of the fall semester,” Covington said. “A decision about whether and how to offer refunds for housing and meal plan costs would be made at that time based upon a variety of variables.”
While Covington said there would be discussion about refunding housing and meal plan costs, Elon junior and petition signatory Katie Zimmerman said the refund of housing and meal plans is not enough. Zimmerman believes the university should reconsider refunding tuition as well as housing and meal plan costs.
“I feel that as an institution with a strong commitment to liberal arts, Elon really sells the importance of in-person and in-class relationships and interactions,” Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman said students would be missing the Elon experience and therefore should be refunded.
“I understand that this may not be reasonable for the fall semester and that it may be necessary for classes to move to an online format again,” Zimmerman said. “However, it is hard for me to see a justification for paying the same tuition as I would for in-person classes when so much is lost online.”
Covington told Elon News Network that the tuition funds all operating costs of the university including grounds maintenance, professor salaries, and student scholarships.
“For the spring semester refunds of room and board last year, that required a reduction in operational costs, reducing the budget on all levels of the university,” Covington said.
If tuition was to be cut the university would have to rebudget, causing departments or sports teams to be suspended along with not being able to support professors salaries. A 5% budget reduction was approved for the next two academic years.