Joey Talley, a junior majoring in economics and management and society, said while the same UNC in-person experience can be attempted virtually, it has not measured up for him.
Emma Bumgardner, a senior majoring in psychology, said she finds it ridiculous to be paying approximately $36,000 in out-of-state tuition for entirely online classes.
Talley said COVID-19 has affected everyone across the board, and while he recognizes that the University may be financially strained, he believes students and their families are probably in worse situations financially.
Bumgardner said acting in the interests of students to issue a price reduction could be a good step in repairing a little bit of what has been broken over the past months, with many attributing the University’s reopening to financial priorities rather than concerns for student and employee safety and well-being.
“If they did have tuition reduction or some sort of refund then people would actually be like, ‘Oh, okay they don't necessarily just care about the money, they care about students too,’” Bumgardner said.
Talley said as an out-of-state student, any amount of money he would be able to get back from reductions of tuition and students fees would help him pay for groceries and his off-campus apartment.
Madeline Powell, a junior majoring in nursing, said students could take remote community college courses and it would feel the same as what UNC currently feels like — but for a lot cheaper.
Powell said she understands that tuition may not be able to be reduced too much because professors still need to get paid and there are costs associated with courses. However, she said her main issue would be if she is still charged the same student fees for things she can no longer access.
Katie Nash White, a graduate student in the School of Social Work, wrote a petition urging for Graduate School tuition to be reduced due to the fact that the education and school experience students are receiving during the pandemic does not achieve the standard upon which tuition is based.
“It's kind of the difference between being in a movie theater versus sitting in front of your laptop and watching a movie – it's like you pay for that enriching, shared experience,” White said. “It leans more towards being one dimensional when you're sitting in front of a computer screen and going over slides on your own time.”
White said her graduate school experience has been significantly reformatted and because it is not the same, she said she doesn't think it deserves the same compensation.
White said that while her professors are doing the best they can, her classes — normally three hours in-person — have been cut to two-hour Zoom sessions because that is all anyone can tolerate and retain at a time. She said she is also receiving pre-recorded PowerPoints, requiring a significant amount of independent learning. Her field time has also been cut from 600 to 500 hours, she said.
The Board of Governors previously voted at its July meeting that the UNC System would not change or refund tuition and student fees for the 2020-2021 academic year even if instruction becomes remote. At the meeting, some members of the BOG argued against the decision.
The UNC System did not respond to requests for comment on whether the BOG will reconsider its decision in response to petitions asking for tuition and student fee reductions and how short in-person instruction lasted at UNC.
“If we're not having the same experience on the academic and social side of the University, why is the tuition staying the same when everything else is changing?” Talley said.