Colleges nationwide increase tuition, despite pandemic; One imposes ‘COVID-19 fee'

The University of Michigan announced a tuition increase for the 2020-2021 school year, as well as additional increased costs that include a temporary COVID-19 fee.

Amid the economic crisis, several universities are raising tuition for the upcoming year.

The University of Michigan Board of Regents approved a budget that will increase tuition by 1.9 percent for undergraduates on the Ann Arbor campus. The budget also includes $12.8 million in additional aid, which will cover the cost of the tuition increase for students receiving need-based financial aid, President Mark Schissel announced, according to a university statement

The new budget will use more than $400 million from the university’s endowment of more than $12 billion

According to the new measure, tuition will increase to an annual rate of $15,520 for in-state students and $51,838 for nonresident students. Regents also approved a 1.9 percent increase in on-campus housing rates and the University Health Service fee. The budget further calls for a temporary $50-per-term COVID-19 fee, revenue from which will be used to cover testing and other safety services. 

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Several regents disputed the proposed increase in tuition, the university reports. 

“I have consistently voted in favor of tuition increases,” said Shauna Ryder Diggs, who voted against the budget measure. “But this year is unlike any other in our lifetimes. When a global health crisis evolves into an economic crisis, we should not increase our tuition.”

Denise Illitch, who also voted against the budget, called the motion “tone deaf” and said she remains “steadfast in believing that raising tuition on Michigan students and their families during this global pandemic — the likes of which we haven’t seen in over 100 years — is dead wrong.” 

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Several universities have continued to announce higher tuition rates despite financial challenges faced by students and their families, many citing the economic fallout caused by COVID-19. These include all of the University of Missouri campuses, New York University, seven Oklahoma institutions governed by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, and Indiana University

Johns Hopkins University announced a 3 percent tuition increase, invoking student protest. More than 8,000 students have signed a petition to protest Syracuse University’s 3.9 percent tuition increase. American University raised its tuition, though it promised to redirect all $13 million in funds collected from the increase to financial aid. The University of Southern California announced a 3.5 percent increase regardless of whether classes are in person or online, claiming an inability to draw from endowment funds. And four of six public universities in Kansas increased their tuition rates, approving an increase of 2 percent at Wichita State University, 2.4 percent at Emporia State University, 2.5 percent at Pittsburg State University and 3.7 percent at Fort Hays State. 

The remaining two - the University of Kansas and Kansas State University- opted not to, saying it wasn’t right to do so at the time. 

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