US college students call for refunds amid return to remote learning

One Michigan State University student said that there should "absolutely" be partial refunds if remote learning is implemented for the entire spring semester

Several students are calling for their universities to consider giving discounts or refunds for the spring semester, citing a remote start due to the omicron variant.

At colleges and universities across the country, students are beginning their semester just like they did at the beginning of the pandemic, sitting in front of their computers at home.

For Ezra Meyer, a junior at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., he understands the intent for university officials to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus on campus, but feels like remote learning isn't effective in accomplishing that.

"I just really don't think going online is an appropriate and effective mechanism to do that," Meyer said. "I speak for myself and I think probably the vast majority of students, when I say that it's just a much lower quality of education online, the professors are the same caliber, obviously, but it's just so much harder to learn looking at a screen versus actually being in class and being able to engage with your professor and your peers," Meyer said.


Students on campus at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021. (Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Although George Washington University is returning to in-person classes on Jan. 18 after a one-week shift to remote learning, many services on-campus will be severely limited.

An email sent to the George Washington University community states that all in-person gatherings should be held remotely, dining on campus will be available in a "grab and go" format, fitness centers on campus will be closed, athletic events will be held without fans, as well as club and intramural sports competitions canceled.

The college anticipates bringing in-person activities back in a "phased approach" beginning in February.

Meyer noted that in the spring 2020 semester, George Washington University prorated housing costs.

A George Washington University spokesperson said that in July 2020, a 10% reduction in tuition for undergraduate students was announced for the fall semester for Foggy Bottom students.

Meyer said that a similar discount would be appropriate.

Washington DC, USA - December 28, 2017: George Washington University Medical Center with statue, sign and date founded entrance in evening

"I think that if it's only a limited period of time, like for this week, it was only a few days, whether that would be kind of like a prorated reduction in tuition just for that week, I think that could be appropriate," Meyer said.

However, he thinks that the university's focus needs to be on reopening as fully as possible.

"We're here not because we want reduced tuition with some amenities. We're here because we want full educational and college experience and are really focused on reopening," Meyer said.


Students at Michigan State University are experiencing a longer period of remote learning, which will last "at least" three weeks into the semester, according to a message from Samuel Stanley, president of the university.

Blake Maday, a student at Michigan State University, told FOX Business that the university should consider a partial refund or discount. 

"Yeah, I think that a lot of people have shared that belief, especially among students," Maday said. "I mean, it's clearly no secret that we are not getting the same education online as we would be in person."

Maday added that Michigan State University should "absolutely" give refunds to students if the whole spring semester is conducted remotely.

East Lansing, MI, USA - August 1, 2014: An entrance to Michigan State University. MSU is a public research university located in East Lansing, Michigan.

Jacoby Sypher, another student at George Washington University, thinks that if the disruption in the in-person campus services extends beyond February, the university should issue a partial refund.


"You're not allowed to have people over, you're not allowed to like, go swimming. You're not allowed to go to the gym, you're not allowed to, like, do these things or, like, sit in the library with people, it's discouraged. The campus is still closed to the public, it wasn't like this last semester. I think there should be a partial refund for that, if it stretches beyond February," Sypher said.

He added that students are still going to leave the campus to socialize, regardless of whether activities on campus are closed.