COVID-19 Era - Ideas for a Bill of Rights for College Students & Families

I have been reading so many posts about COVID-19 and even watched ASU reluctantly provide an optional refund to my junior. Yet - no refund for the athletic fees (free tickets to to NCAA events on campus), the rec center fee and the honors college fee (which was for programs that had to be called off.

I get that last spring was different, but for this fall - why am I also being asked to pay these student fees when it isn’t likely students will be able to attend the rec center (gov closed it) or athletic events?

In addition, with the growing concern about the cost of college, college completion rates, safety, violence, and refunds, I think that as families we may need to assert our rights more clearly.

Does anyone else agree that we would all benefit from a student / family - Bill of Rights needs to be established. Given the cost of college it seems like college needs a warning label for students and their families? Paying for college - like other large consumer purchases - will benefit from real consumer protections and transparency.

What do you think should be included?

Here are some of my ideas:

  • all degrees are not worth the same investment so be careful with how much you pay for any particular degree
  • all universities are not worth the same investment so be careful what you pay to one particular school
  • schools have terms and conditions regarding your payments and most often do not provide 100% refunds.
  • schools are required to publish campus safety & crime statistics in the Clery Report - but hundreds report that no thefts, fires or sexual assaults occur on their campus

Other ideas?

What are these “rights” and where are they granted/codified?

I don’t see any “rights” here. Just platitudes and statements of fact. What am I missing?

I was look for help from parents like you @RichInPitt to help my ideas become something like a bill of rights.

It was more of a concept or framework that I think would be worth parents demanding. Frankly for my 5 kids - i will likely spend more than a million dollars for their education but it seems like many schools are just indifferent.

University of North Carolina - just got fined for not completing their crime and safety report correctly. Really? Most schools don’t provide refunds - but have you tried to find a refund policy on a school website?

Can you name another large purchase in your life that is so opaque? I feel like I am paying for a cruise - where everybody is on the same boat but paying a different amount. At least on a cruise, you have the opportunity to purchase insurance.

Even trip insurance is of no value now. I paid over $500 for ours, for the trip to Europe we’re supposed to be on right now. As a result, I didn’t pay attention to cancellation policies. Well, guess what, the insurance policy had a specific exclusion for epidemics. So we’re out of luck on some expenses. What are our “rights?”

Colleges got hit with a sledgehammer. Some of their expenses have gone UP as a result of going online. I just hope they survive.

Many schools are transparent about crime, costs, and refunds and many also have a Bill of Rights.

I’m most familiar with Purdue. They have a 21 Article Bill of Students Rights.

As for Covid, they have reduced tuition for students opting to be fully on line for this semester and voided housing contracts. For those choosing a hybrid model on campus, it’s regular tuition, R&B. They have already said if they are forced to closed there won’t be a housing refund this semester (they did give a R&B refund last spring). This was communicated well before tuition for Fall was due. Families need to make their own decision about about what’s acceptable and not.

That said, I’m sure I’d be wanting better if D’s school wasn’t communicating well and FWIW, I wouldn’t be happy about paying fees for programs that weren’t running in the Fall at all.

There is another thread somewhere (I hate the search engine on this site otherwise I’d try to link it) about upcoming HS senior parents looking closely at how individual schools are handling the Covid crisis. I think that’s a worthwhile new criteria in selecting colleges.

I agree and have been researching pandemics. It looks like all insurance policies have some exclusions, but I just saw this on CBS Dallas - that say’s there is a form of tuition insurance that covers COVID-19.

That tuition refund insurance covers illness with COVID just like any other documented medical reason for needing to take a medical leave. Nothing new. If asymptomatic, it would not apply.

@1966Parent I get pretty nervous at your implication that we should pay more for certain majors and less for others. Let’s hope college does not become entirely vocational. (I don’t think return on investment is that cut and dried, but I understand the concern.)

That said, science doctoral students tend to get more funding than humanities doctoral students, something I think should be addressed. I guess that I guess that is kind of the opposite of what you are suggesting :slight_smile:

I do hope that some of the financially vulnerable colleges survive this. Parents should not necessarily have to subsidize their survival, but it is true that some schools are at risk of closing.

Some colleges already do charge more tuition for some undergraduate majors than others.
In addition, at some colleges, some courses have additional materials, lab, studio, etc. fees, so that majors with more of these courses may effectively cost more.

Already, most college students study explicitly pre-professional majors, although this tendency is greater at less selective colleges, rather than the highly selective colleges that are the most talked about on these forums. Even many of those studying liberal arts majors are doing so for pre-professional reasons (e.g. economics as a substitute business major, math or statistics for finance or actuarial work, biology as a “convenient” pre-med major, political science for pre-law for some reason, etc.).

With greater financial pressures on most people, increasing economic inequality, and decreasing economic opportunity, the push toward maximizing pre-professional preparation during expensive college will get stronger.

College costs are already heavily a parent burden, so a financially struggling private college that is unable to convince parents to pay for their kids to study there is at risk of closing.

try here (maybe you will find what you are looking for)

I see that they have not updated information since 2018
but you could find trends on the cutting tool

The problem with charging the same for all degrees, is it can distort the market and leads to students borrowing the same for a degree in Art History (which I love and respect) as they do for a STEM degree. They are not worth the same, but the federal government and schools act as if they may be when making claims that the average college graduate makes more than $1 million more than a student with only a high school degree.

Before choosing a degree or college - blind of the outcome - it seems important for all families and students to know that the outcomes can be and are often different.

Thanks @sybbie719 - I have used the Clery link before when I couldn’t find the data on the school website. Schools are required to not just complete the survey but to publish it.

You said:
“Here are some of my ideas:

  • all degrees are not worth the same investment so be careful with how much you pay for any particular degree
  • all universities are not worth the same investment so be careful what you pay to one particular school
  • schools have terms and conditions regarding your payments and most often do not provide 100% refunds.
  • schools are required to publish campus safety & crime statistics in the Clery Report - but hundreds report that no thefts, fires or sexual assaults occur on their campus”

I don’t see how some of these “ideas” are different from normal times.

Who determines that one kid’s engineering degree is more valuable than another kid’s humanities degree? My child, who majored in a classic humanities discipline, will soon be starting a highly paid job, but even if she wasn’t, I don’t see why it’s better to major in engineering than in anthropology. Maybe a student is interested in anthropology and not engineering. Who gets to determine worth? I don’t think Clarence Thomas or David Letterman regard their degrees as worth less than that of an engineer.

If parent A chooses to pay $70k a year for Ranked Around 100 Private U and parent B chooses to pay $70k a year for Ivy U, I don’t see how anyone gets to determine if Parent B’s choice is the better one. Success is largely determined by the student.

Yes, schools have their own policies about refunds.

As for Clery Reports, I agree that colleges who are not accurate in publishing their data should be held accountable.

I don’t disagree with @Lindagaf - I firmly believe your statement that “success is largely determined by the student”.

I just find the entire situation distressing when it takes me more than an hour to complete paperwork to buy a house or car…and I can sign up for a PLUS loan in 3 clicks from my students school website.

Consumer disclosures may be a better way of saying “bill of rights”. Thanks for everyone’s comments.

The most common type of STEM major, biology, is not that much better than art history in pay surveys.

Actually, it seems to have been a few years now, but colleges list on their websites the job market data for their degrees – I was poking around at a few private colleges and also some public ones. So maybe its voluntary or maybe it is by state law or maybe even DOE regulation. It’s fairly broad, but it lists the jobs that one could pursue if you get ABC degree and then the starting/average/hi/low salaries. I think with the for profit college debacle, schools had to list how long it took graduates of their programs to get job, starting salaries, fields, etc.

As in everything, the user (in this case parent/guardian/person paying and the student should do their own research. The job market data listed is more of just a general guide.

A bill of rights, or more government regulation just leads to more burdens on the school and higher costs, etc. Seems common sense would make a parent/student look at the different fields, different job/post BA/BS opportunities, etc. And if one is fortunate enough to choose whatever one wants to do without having to consider these facets, than one is indeed very blessed!

My 2 cents :smile:

I appreciate @Faithabove your comments and thoughts. As I have considered this - a Bill of Rights may be to far…but perhaps what is needed is for consumer disclosures to be part of the navigation of each school website.

CNBC just had an another ROI article:

Some do, some don’t. Those that do sometimes list by major, sometimes not. Listing by major is probably the minimum for the post-graduation pay survey to be of any use to a prospective student.