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Students petition to decrease summer tuition for online courses

The University responded that it was currently evaluating the tuition costs

<p>A three-credit summer course costs $1221 for in-state students and $4476 for out-of-state students.</p>

A three-credit summer course costs $1221 for in-state students and $4476 for out-of-state students.

As a result of summer courses being moved online, students have petitioned the University to decrease the cost of summer tuition. Currently, all classes offered during Summer Session I and II have moved to remote instruction, with a decision about Session III — which takes place from July 13 to August 7 — set to be made June 1. 

The petition was started last week by second-year College student Olivia Ann Morrison. Morrison was inspired by petitions from other universities such as Columbia calling for discounted tuition as well as the pass/fail petition started by students at the University, which successfully led to the University making Credit/No Credit the default grading option for the Spring 2020 semester. The petition calls for a price adjustment and a breakdown of the fees that go into summer tuition. As of April 30, the petition had 524 signatures. 

“While the spring semester's transition to online instruction’s lack of price adjustment is understandable given the short turnaround amid the emerging COVID-19 Pandemic, for the summer, the university has had more time to adjust its fees and expectations accordingly,” the petition read. “The university has not adapted or decreased the price of summer tuition, reflecting a lack of support and sensitivity from UVA for students and their families during this uncertain time.” 

Some universities across the country have already reduced summer tuition. Students at Penn State will save between 23 to 34 percent on summer tuition. The University of Texas at Austin has reduced summer tuition to 50 percent of the rate for fall and spring semesters instead of the usual 85 percent. 

Wes Hester, the University’s director of media relations and deputy spokesperson, said that the University is assessing the situation.

“We are currently evaluating the tuition and fee structure for this summer and should have more information to share soon,” Hester wrote in an email to The Cavalier Daily. 

Per credit, tuition for an in-state student costs $407 and $1492 for an out-of-state student. With the typical class being three credits, this would amount to a cost of $1221 for in-state students and $4476 for out-of-state students for a single course. 

Although summer classes aren’t required, according to Morrison, this doesn’t mean that the price shouldn’t be adjusted. 

“Learning online is such an antithetical experience. [Compared to] being in the classroom with your teacher, virtual instruction is so different,” Morrison said. “Of course the teachers are working just as hard, if not harder, but I’m just still curious as to how learning online should cost the same.” 

Second-year College student Hannah Leigh is from out-of-state and needs to take a Physics course over the summer to fulfill a requirement. Both her and her twin brother attend the University, so her parents are already investing a lot of money in their education. While she had considered taking the course at a community college, their session lasts all summer, and she’s working half of the summer to make money. 

“My parents told me not to worry about it because they know I want to get this done, but it’s still kind of disappointing how much it costs, especially because we lost half of this semester and online learning is obviously not the same as an in-person lecture,” Leigh said. 

Morrison hopes that the petition is able to catalyze some feedback from the University, and even if it doesn’t lead to an adjustment in summer tuition, it may help lead to decreased tuition in the fall if circumstances do not permit a return to Grounds, she said. 

“It just feels like on one side the school couldn’t have foreseen the circumstances and everyone’s kind of in a tough situation,” Morrison said. “But also I feel like the school should be understanding of students about how it is a tough time with money, but that shouldn’t stop them from being able to pursue their education.” 

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