• Flux Magazine

"Where'd My Money Go?" by Emma Landry

There’s no denying that we’re in the midst of a world crisis. Our world has been stricken with tragedy. People are getting sick and dying, people are unable to pay their bills and are becoming homeless, and people are losing loved ones and their social interactions. Switching to online learning in an attempt to keep people safe and healthy is a small price to pay to help the greater good. It is not without its flaws, though.

At the beginning of March, I got the news that the rest of our semester would be finished online using Canvas and Zoom. I understand why the university chose to do this, of course. We need to make every effort to combat this virus that is plaguing our society. That being said, my choice to partake in an in-person education was a very conscious one. I learn best when I’m in a classroom, and because of that, I was willing to pay the extra money to get the type of education I needed in order to be successful. Now, for half of a semester I’m being forced to take a full course load of online classes, which I’m having to work extra hard to do well in and I’m far more stressed than I was before.

I understand that this was out of the university’s hands. They absolutely needed to take this step and make every effort to keep people safe. However, I have paid for in-person classes that have now been moved online. The university is saving money on electricity, food, water, non-essential staff, paper, office supplies, security, and heating and air conditioning. All of those things are paid for by our tuition, so where is all of this money going? Not back to us. 

I’m not expecting a full tuition refund by any means. I completely understand that there are still things the school needs to pay for, but now they need to pay for far less. I would just ask that I be refunded for the extra fees outside of paying our professors for half of a semester. I’m not receiving the education I was promised. It is out of the university’s hands, but it’s also out of mine. I’m being forced to work twice as hard, struggle twice as much, and receive half the amount of help.

My professors are doing their best, but the fact is that being out of the classroom makes it harder to learn for some people, including me. I learn best when I can sit in a classroom and take notes, and while some of my teachers are still providing lectures, my focus is shot because I’m sitting on my bed or at my kitchen table instead of in a classroom. An online education costs $335 less per unit than a traditional education, so why am I not paying that price for the rest of the semester (https://www.affordablecollegesonline.org/financial-aid/online-college-degree-cost/)?

I want to be paying for the education I’m receiving, and right now I’m not. There are certain things the university needs to be paying for right now, but that still leaves them with an excess of money from our tuition, I’m sure. All I’m asking is that the money I overpaid be returned to me. College is not cheap, and I’m not an essential worker, so that extra tuition money is going to waste. That’s money I could be using during this crisis to be paying my bills, or helping out family and friends that need it, but instead, the university is sitting on it for some reason that is beyond me. This money could be being used to help students during this financial crisis, and I believe it should be.

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