Kansas State freezes tuition, but charges ‘online’ and ‘privilege’ fees

Kansas State University announced in April that tuition for the 2020-21 school year would not increase.

However, the school will charge students extra fees for online learning and campus benefits.

Students are petitioning for these fees to be adjusted.

Kansas State University froze tuition for the upcoming school year, citing concern for students suffering the impact of the pandemic. 

But, as students have pointed out and are protesting, the school will continue to charge additional fees, including an online learning fee and a “campus privilege” fee. 

Students at Kansas State started a petition titled “Get KSU to care more about students than money.” The authors of the petition have three requests: a partial refund on tuition if classes shift to fully remote learning later in the semester, a reduction in price per credit hour of online classes, and an adjustment to the campus services fee in order to make it reflect the amount of campus benefits students will receive compared with last year. 

Kansas State currently charges students $70 per credit hour for online classes. The petition authors pointed out this is standard policy for online courses, but protested the university’s decision to charge the fee for classes that were originally scheduled as in-person instruction.

One student wrote on Twitter that he noticed the online course fee after he enrolled in what he thought would be an in-person course.


“The additional $70/credit hour fee should at least not occur for students who had enrolled in the in-person course, and honestly should be $70 cheaper than the tuition rate charged for the in-person course,” the petition stated.

[RELATED: Colleges nationwide increase tuition, despite pandemic; One imposes ‘COVID-19 fee’]

The second charge up for debate is the campus privilege fee, or the student services fee. Broken down, the $472.50 fee covers services, or “privileges,” including sports, club fees, and entertainment. Students are asking that the fee be “pro-rated to accurately represent the number of services the university is providing, compared to last year.”

The authors of the petition emphasize they “are proud to represent Kansas State University” and “love the time we have spent learning and growing as students thus far.” However, “K-State has the power to help ease the financial burdens many students are feeling and, most of all, to care more about treating students fairly than about the amount of money they are receiving.” 

More than 2,000 students have signed the petition. 

[RELATED: Coalition aims to hold colleges accountable for ‘undelivered benefits’ amid shift to online learning] 

In April, Kansas State’s student newspaper reported on the university president’s announcement that tuition would remain flat for the 2020-21 school year. President Richard Myers said at the time that “we thought it was just the right thing to do” because “everybody’s been impacted in some way either financially or economically.”

“It’s gonna mean we’re going to take some pain on campus that we would not want to take, but we have got to do it because it’s the right thing to do,” he said. 

Kansas State told Campus Reform that the $70 online learning fee is an adjustment from the usual cost of $123.79 for undergraduate online courses and $148.70 for graduate online classes. All other fees will remain the same, the university spokesperson said.

”The university worked to keep tuition and fees as low as possible for all students,” KSU told Campus Reform in a statement. “This included keeping our base tuition, campus privilege fee, academic infrastructure fee, and specific college fees the same as last year as well as significantly reducing our online fees.”

Like many universities, KSU will operate on a hybrid model this fall, with some courses being in-person and others online. Other courses will be offered through both channels.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @mariatcopeland