MSA passes 3.3% tuition reimbursement bill at forum meeting

The Minnesota Student Association passed a bill that calls for the University to provide a tuition reimbursement that reflects one-third of fall semester being online-only.

by Ava Thompson, Campus Activities Reporter

In a bill passed at the Nov. 24 forum meeting, the Minnesota Student Association asked the University of Minnesota Board of Regents to immediately refund students 3.3% of fall tuition because one-third of the semester has been exclusively online.

Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the University refunded students 50% of their Student Services Fees from March 28 through the last day of finals in May because many of the services were no longer accessible to students.

The proportion of tuition reimbursement MSA is advocating for equates to a 10% reimbursement of the portion of the semester that was exclusively online, said Jack Flom, the author of the resolution. At the beginning of the semester, MSA proposed a 10% refund if class modality was online for the entire semester.

The resolution cited a Student Senate survey that found that a little over 50% of Twin Cities undergraduate students surveyed had no in-person classes. Additionally, almost 96% somewhat to strongly agree there should be a reduction in tuition.

A 3.3% tuition refund for University students on the Twin Cities campus would amount to $219.75 for a resident student and $521.66 for a nonresident student, according to the resolution.

President of MSA, Amy Ma, said she had conversations about tuition with administrators, including Senior Vice President of Finance and Operations Myron Frans.

“Nobody is denying that the value of online and in-person classes are different,” Ma said. “Several admin offices had expressed that unless [MSA is] putting forward a proposal, they wouldn’t really engage in this conversation.”

In an email, Rodrigo Tojo Garcia, MSA representative to the Board of Regents, said a 3.3% reimbursement is more than reasonable given the circumstances that students have faced during the pandemic. Tojo Garcia said he hopes that the measure will provide relief to students.

“The cost of higher education has long been a concern for students – doubly so for our Nonresident, Non-reciprocity (NRNR) students, whose tuition is much higher and tends to increase much faster than in-state students’ tuition,” Tojo Garcia said in the email.

A statement to the Minnesota Daily from a University spokesperson said University administration does not intend to recommend any changes to tuition levels for fall 2020 or spring 2021.

“With regard to tuition, the Board of Regents, at the request of the President, froze tuition when it approved the annual COVID-adjusted budget last June. The Board is not scheduled to revisit tuition until it begins discussing the 2021-22 budget,” the statement said. “Student continue to receive full academic credit for classes taken during these semesters and make meaningful progress toward graduation.”

According to the College Student Health Survey conducted in 2018, University students systemwide reported financial difficulties as one of the top five health and personal issues that affected their academic performance. The Board of Regents plans to meet on Thursday to discuss the top stressors for students.

“In addressing tuition, I am optimistic that the Board of Regents will take these factors into account and hope that they will act swiftly to reduce tuition,” Tojo Garcia said in the email.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated with a statement from the University.