Do college students get refunds due to coronavirus?

By Maxine Seya

Many college students are being forced off campus as professors resort to online learning. Are they getting any refund for tuition, room, or board? Should they?

– Amanda, a parent from Las Vegas, NV

Maxine’s sophomore year dorm room. Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill.

Most schools are not refunding tuition payments. Vanderbilt, Berkeley, and Widener are just a handful of a long list of schools that have moved classes online, citing the new social distancing requirements to stop the spread of coronavirus. Given how many students congregate closely in lecture halls and classrooms, it seems like the smart thing to do. Inarguably, university professors and IT departments are rushing to revamp course structures and test viable virtual learning technology.

Because universities are still providing a service — professors are still required to finish teaching their courses — and students are still receiving an education, universities do not feel justified in refunding tuition payments.

I just interviewed Ken Dunbar, the international director of admissions at Widener University, on the effects of coronavirus on college admissions.

Here’s what he said about tuition refunds:

“Now the tuition stays the same because they’re taking online classes, but universities are going to have to give refunds back for the room and board.”

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Maxine Seya
Maxine Seya is a former investigative journalist, college consultant, and admissions interviewer. She studied at Peking University (Beijing, China) and Université Paul-Valéry (Montpellier, France) and investigated for CNN and Huffington Post before graduating from Northwestern University. She founded SocratesPost to share the human stories behind the admission gates and offer parents clarity as they help their teens with college.