On June 18, the Student Senate conveyed for a special session where they passed the Fair Pricing Act urging the University to alter tuition pricing for 2020 as many classes will be delivered remotely due to COVID-19.
Richard “Dick” Beekman, the primary sponsor of the act, told the Niner Times, “UNC Charlotte has a moral and ethical duty to provide a high quality education at an affordable price. While the COVID-19 pandemic has created a financial burden for the University, it is important to remember that it has also created financial hardships for numerous students and their families.”
This resolution was passed after the student body received an email on June 12 from the University stating that, “A student's tuition and fees charges are based on program type, not course delivery. Distance Education tuition and fee rates are applicable only to a designated Distance Education degree program.”
Fall 2020 class schedules will be altered in order to reduce classroom density and provide accommodations to the immunosuppressed due to COVID-19. Classes may be delivered in one of three formats: face-to-face, hybrid or completely online. It has been surveyed by the Niner Times that face-to-face is the most popular option for students; however, there is still discussion as to method delivery as it was also surveyed that staff prefer remote courses by the UNC Charlotte chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). The decision of class delivery method will be made by each department and is estimated to be finalized by late July.
If classes are predominantly offered online, it raises the question of whether tuition should be the same as a typical in-person semester.
The Student Senate’s Fair Pricing Act is founded on the idea that historically, distance education has been a cheaper alternative to the traditional education rate, and that students have also historically been given the distance education rate regardless of degree program when taking distance education courses, contrary to the email from June 12.
The resolution hopes to inspire the University to provide distance education rates to those forced to take an entirely online course schedule as well as encourage the exploration of alternative budgeting to relieve the students of a potentially unethical pricing of tuition.
Beekman stated, “Attempting to balance the budget by passing the deficit directly on to students who are taking entirely online classes through no costs of their own is unbecoming of a university that claims to put the student first. It is my hope that as a result of this legislation, the University reconsiders their decision and provides the appropriate rate for students taking online classes and finds other areas to cut costs.”
Since the passing of the act, the University has yet to release an official statement in regards to Fall 2020 tuition.