Universities across the United States are cutting tuition fees and other costs for the upcoming semester as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Reductions are being made at a variety of public and private institutions, including the prestigious Ivy League Princeton University, Johns Hopkins University, and Georgetown University.
Cuts range from as low as 10% of a college’s annual fees, to as high as 60% at some institutions.
The decisions are likely part of a wider effort to ensure enrollment of both domestic and international students in the Fall semester as many campuses remain closed and reliant on online teaching due to social distancing measures.
The news follows the US government’s U-turn over whether international students can stay in the country if all their teaching is online. Students had initially been told they had to study on campus or leave the US, but the decision was reversed last month after widespread criticism.
Despite its reversal, the policy, alongside the USA’s poor handling of the coronavirus crisis, has damaged the appeal of the United States for international students, according to recent reports.
Thousands of college students have signed petitions calling for reductions in tuition due to the shift to online teaching, with many claiming that online teaching should not be valued at the same level as the usual face-to-face methods.
However, most colleges maintain that the cuts are aimed at making up for the loss of other on-campus services such as extracurricular activities, rather than inadequacies in teaching.
In a statement, Georgetown University — who will cut tuition by 10% for all non-returning students — said the reduction in fees was made “in recognition that undergraduate students who return to campus will have access to certain services that will be unavailable to off-campus students.”
Princeton University said that their tuition cuts reflected their commitment to “ensuring that a Princeton education is affordable for every student, even at this time of economic uncertainty”.
Tuition fee cuts are significant, but only around two dozen colleges have so far committed to fee cuts, amounting to a tiny proportion of the United States’ 5,000+ universities.