Paul L. Caron
Dean



Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Colleges Face A No-Win Dilemma: To Cut Or Not To Cut Tuition?

Chronicle of Higher Education, Colleges Face a No-Win Dilemma: To Cut or Not to Cut Tuition?:

Amid all the uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic for higher education, two things are becoming clear. Most students yearn to come back to campus in the fall, in spite of the risks. And if, instead, students wind up receiving online instruction come September, they don’t want to pay full tuition.

These two factors are driving the decision-making of millions of students and their families. In response, many institutions are frantically making elaborate and expensive plans to open up classrooms and dorms, in part because they feel like they have to. Surveys show that an overwhelming majority of students don’t want to pay full cost for another semester of Zoom meetings, and that some incoming freshmen who have been admitted to colleges that choose to extend online learning into the fall might defect to colleges that decide to open their campuses. Substantially fewer students equals plunging tuition revenue, which equals financial disaster at a time when many colleges are already at the fiscal brink.

Colleges that are going with online instruction are playing it safe with the virus, but running the risk of losing enrollment — and tuition revenue — to institutions that promise a semester with dorms and classmates and maybe even a little fun.

All of which presents a no-win dilemma to colleges planning to offer mostly or wholly online instruction. They can discount tuition in hopes of keeping students happy, despite the hit to their bottom line. Or they can stick with full tuition for the fall, and still brace for the possible hit to their bottom line.

A number of colleges have offered reduced, deferred, or even free tuition since the spring, but midsummer has raised a new crop of similar announcements.

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2020/07/colleges-face-a-no-win-dilemma-to-cut-or-not-to-cut-tuition.html

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Comments

The sooner that the college/university cartel is broken, the better. Two-year community colleges (and voc schools) excepted.

Posted by: MM | Jul 21, 2020 8:10:40 AM

If, as the author argues “ most students yearn to come back to campus in the fall, in spite of the risks. And if, instead, students wind up receiving online instruction come September, they don’t want to pay full tuition,” there may be other options.

Those students who are willing to accept the risks in order to receive instruction in classrooms this fall can simply be asked to sign a waiver of liability as they would if they were engaging in other activities with known risks: e.g., rock climbing, parachute jumping, white water rafting, etc.

This would negate pleas that colleges require federally-granted legal immunity in order to open; I helped defeat attempts to obtain congressionally-granted immunity from the tobacco industry and the food/restaurant industries (the infamous “cheeseburger bill”).

If properly drafted, such waivers - following full and fair disclosure of the risks, and an opportunity to decline and instead accept on-line instruction - should be upheld as valid. SEE:

Waivers Can Provide Excellent Shields From Legal Liability
https://bit.ly/3eQvq6p

For students who want the classroom experience - interacting with fellow students, being able to see and hear each other, exchange documents, work together in small groups in a classroom, socialize before and after class, etc. - professors who are at exceptionally high risk of death or disability from COVID-19 could teach from a nearby but separate room (or even their professorial offices) facing a HD video camera and with high-quality microphone.

Students together in the classroom would be able to see and hear the professor on a giant TV screen (perhaps more than one screen if the classroom is very large), perhaps better than they would if forced to sit far from the front in a large classroom practicing social distancing.

Similarly, the professor would be able to see the students, question or engage in discussions with them, respond to their questions and comments, etc. just as if he were in the same room.

Moreover, they would have a better view of anything the professor wrote on a blackboard, slides projected for the class, etc.

It would not be distance teaching because the students would be together in one classroom, with the professor nearby, probably in the same building.

And it certainly would not be online instruction (no Internet involved) - thus avoiding any restrictions ICE may decide to impose regarding foreign students, and even avoiding the limits on “distance learning” mandated by Standard 306 on law schools.

SEE: http://banzhaf.net/STANDARD306.pdf

Posted by: LawProf John Banzhaf | Jul 21, 2020 8:30:22 AM

The funny thing about greed is it always bites you in the butt. I wonder how many of these schools had any problem raising tuition annually starting around 2002/2003? You reap what you sow. It's too bad they pissed the money away.

***
All of which presents a no-win dilemma to colleges planning to offer mostly or wholly online instruction. They can discount tuition in hopes of keeping students happy, despite the hit to their bottom line. Or they can stick with full tuition for the fall, and still brace for the possible hit to their bottom line.

Posted by: Dale Spradling | Jul 21, 2020 12:55:38 PM

I agree with the first comment, even though I didn't leave it.

Posted by: MM | Jul 21, 2020 6:33:38 PM

THIS JUST IN

WASHINGTON POST
Georgetown University to Offer Tuition Breaks for Many Undergraduates this Fall
https://wapo.st/3fQLeat

Georgetown University announced Tuesday that it will offer tuition discounts to many undergraduate students starting -classes in August.

Students who are not invited to live on campus, which includes most upperclassmen, will receive a 10 percent cut in tuition totaling about $2,800, officials said. They said undergraduates who return to the campus in Northwest Washington will have access to services that will be unavailable to students living away from the school.

Georgetown, like many other universities, has scaled back on-campus housing amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. A limited number of single bedrooms are being offered to first-year students, some resident assistants and students with special circumstances — including those enrolled in certain academic programs and students with family situations that what would make it difficult to continue school away from campus.

But Georgetown’s D.C. neighbors haven’t budged. American University officials told students a tuition adjustment isn’t possible but offered discounts from 18 to 30 percent on activity fees.

George Washington University in its most recent update to the campus said tuition will remain the same, regardless of the format in which classes are delivered. Howard University leaders shared concerns about being able to afford a tuition reduction.

Posted by: LawProf John Banzhaf | Jul 22, 2020 8:24:16 AM