Students at EWU should expect large-scale changes to virtually every part of campus life in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. They should not, however, expect many changes to tuition and fees.
As the novel version of the coronavirus sweeps across the U.S. and climbs towards 15,000 infections, over 1,300 of which are in Washington State, EWU has taken drastic actions to ensure the safety of students, faculty and staff. These actions include canceling student gatherings and major events like Get Lit! and semester commencement. Perhaps the biggest change is that courses at EWU will be changing to online delivery for the rest of the academic year.
“These decisions were not made lightly,” said President Mary Cullinan in a campus-wide email. “Our first and foremost priority is the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff, their families and the larger community.”
This shift in modalities will not change tuition at all and will have a negligible impact on fees, many of which are required regardless of whether a student takes classes online or in-person.
Certain fees, like the Pence Union Building fee and the Recreation fee, were voted on by the student body to fund the PUB and URC respectively and cannot be legally waived. The PUB will remain open, although with modified hours, while the URC, Sports and Recreation Center, and the Aquatics Center will be closed until at least April 27.
“Our first and foremost priority is the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff, their families and the larger community.” -Mary Cullinan, EWU President
The Technology fee, which is mandatory for all students and helps the school provide internet, email and software for students, will remain unchanged, as will the Health and Wellness fee, which provides students access to medical and mental health services. EWU is exploring options to provide counseling and other health services online.
The Student Transportation fee, which allows students free access to STA buses in the Spokane area will continue and students can keep using mass transit to get around, even if they are taking classes fully online.
The Services and Activities fee, which is tied to tuition and used to fund activities, clubs and athletics, will also continue, even as student activities have been canceled and clubs have to meet remotely. EWU hopes to continue to provide engagement and opportunities to students online and will continue to assess the fee throughout the Spring quarter.
One change to the fee structure that benefits students is that there will be no Online Delivery fee during the Spring quarter. The fee, which is $35 per credit, has been waived for the entirety of the Spring quarter, saving students hundreds of dollars.
EWU students worried about how this change in modalities will affect their financial aid should expect business as usual. EWU expects minimal disruption to financial aid awards, although some may be recalculated depending on where the student chooses to live while taking classes online.
Veterans will still be able to use the Post-9/11 GI Bill to fund courses since EWU’s online courses are approved by the State Approving Authority. Veterans using the GI Bill will also likely not face a reduction in housing benefits due to the shift to online classes.
Under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, EWU veterans enrolled in full-time classes were receiving a monthly housing allowance (MHA) of $1,401. By law, that allowance would have been reduced to $850 a month for a student enrolled in distance-learning courses. On March 16, though, the House and Senate passed S. 3503, which allows the Veterans Administration to administer payments as if there has been no change in learning modalities. The bill is expected to be signed by President Donald Trump within the next week.
Students who use work-study programs as part of their financial aid award may be affected, however. As staffing levels fluctuate across the university in response to the crisis, work-study opportunities may not be as readily available. Students who use work-study should contact their supervisors to see what will be available, according to EWU’s website.
While EWU students should expect sweeping changes to the delivery of their education and the way that they live their daily lives, for the most part, how much they pay for school will remain unchanged.