College Plans for the Fall 2020
By Joe Messinger, CFP®
July 10, 2020
COVID-19 continues to shake the college world, and it is an ever-changing landscape. Colleges are now issuing statements about their plans for the fall. Some are changing semester start and end dates–doing away with fall breaks. Many colleges are offering classes totally online, some are hoping for in-person classes, and some are a blend of the two. Some colleges are limiting the number of students allowed back on campus, while others are not. We are even seeing a few colleges providing a tuition discount because of their classes being totally online.
The Chronicle of Higher Education is tracking the plans of about 1,100 colleges. A few universities have garnered national attention because of their plans for the fall.
What are colleges planning for the fall?
Harvard University will only allow 40% of their students back on campus including all first-year students for the fall semester. If forced to continue online learning into the spring, freshmen would go home and seniors would return. The big news for Harvard is that learning will be 100% online. Tuition would remain full price with no discount–close to $50,000 for those without financial aid. (Room and board is just over $18,000.)
Like Harvard, Princeton will also be limiting the number of students allowed to live on campus. Freshmen and juniors allowed in the fall and sophomores and seniors in the spring. The majority of classes will be remote. Like most colleges, they are waiving the first-year residency requirement if students wish remain at home. One unique aspect of Princeton’s plans for the fall is their announced 10% undergraduate tuition reduction. The reduced tuition is something most colleges teaching remotely are offering.
Rutgers, another New Jersey school, will also be teaching most courses remotely. However, access to on-campus housing will be extremely limited. Their announcement does not detail how access to housing will be determined or if a tuition discount will be provided. We would guess that like most colleges no tuition discount will be made.
Georgetown University is among the colleges asking students to be tested for COVID-19 prior to returning to campus with continued symptom monitoring. They plan to offer “many” courses using a “hybrid-flexible” model with students being able to choose to attend in-person or remotely. They also note that “most” undergraduate courses will be fully virtual. Like Harvard, they plan to offer on-campus housing to first-year students as well as a few select other groups who need to be on campus.
On July 6, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced a new rule prohibiting international students from returning to or remaining in the U.S. if the colleges they attend are teaching courses online only. This rule is a change from earlier in the year when international students could choose to remain in the U.S. to continue their studies online. 90% of international students chose to remain in the country to continue their studies. Now, they will be forced to leave.
Universities were quick to respond. Rutgers announced they will join their peer universities to advocate for a congressional solution–even promising legal action. Harvard and MIT did just that and have filed suit against ICE and the Department of Homeland Security calling the rule cruel and reckless. We will need to monitor this ever-changing situation.
Plans for the fall are evolving.
Each college has to carefully consider their plans for the fall based on their state’s current situation, their campus’s density, and other factors. It is a delicate balance. We’ve just looked at a few to see the variety of options. Parents will continue to be bewildered by paying full price for remote instruction. Colleges will plead their case that they still have the same expenses paying teachers and staff whether instruction is in person or over a computer screen. We all will continue to watch as college doors “open” in the fall.