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  • Eli Wilch, reporter

Coronavirus' Affect on College

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to plague America and the world, one of the virus’ many casualties has been higher education. Colleges and universities across the world have begun the transfer to online school. Many colleges have gone entirely online with many others choosing a hybrid schedule. With these new changes to education, many students feel they’ve been cheated out of the college experience.

Daniel Carstairs, a student at the University of Rochester in Rochester, NY, is one of these students. Carstairs recently filed a class action lawsuit against the University of Rochester seeking refunds for tuition. Carstairs’ lawyer, James Francis, has made it clear that Carstairs isn’t necessarily upset with having online classes, but rather the lack of a discount or refund on tuition.

Francis shared the following thoughts in a recent interview with WHEC News in Rochester.

“No one is challenging the University of Rochester’s decision to go online and shut the campus down for the health of its students,” Francis said. “It’s simply…. Why is there no discount? Why is the discount not significant, why isn’t there an effort, an attempt even to discount the students?”

With tuition rising over 270% at private institutions and over 380% at public institutions since the 1980s according to Business Insider, it isn’t difficult to understand Carstairs’ frustrations. Students who enroll in college pay for not only a rudimentary education, but also the college experience.

Another aspect contributing to student frustration is that many universities already had fully online programs with tuition prices significantly lower than normal tuition rates. Students enrolled in on-campus education, however, have not been offered these prices even though, due to coronavirus, they are attending online.

While these changes are in the best interest of student safety, they do raise many questions about the fairness of college tuition prices in post-COVID America, as well as questions about the future of college education.

If many colleges become increasingly technology oriented without tuition drops, will college be worth it? While a change to online school may seem to be temporary or trivial, it could prove to be far more drastic.

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