Are you a college student that’s in school amidst the coronavirus pandemic? Were you surprised when your tuition bill included new or increasing fees for things like “health and wellness” and “coronavirus mitigation”?
Whether you are attending classes virtually or in person, there’s a good chance that you have received increased fees along with your tuition bill.
Let’s face it — the pandemic has hit everyone hard. Unemployment has skyrocketed. Confirmed cases continue to climb. Colleges and universities are experiencing revenue loss as some students elect to take a gap year until things improve.
In an effort to offset or defray additional COVID-related costs, colleges are passing along their increased expenses to students in the form of escalating fees.
An Overview of College-Related COVID-19 Expenses
Without a doubt, most colleges are passing along COVID-19 expenses to their students. These pandemic-related hidden fees may show up in the following ways:
- COVID mitigation fees of up to $950 per year are being charged by most schools. These fees cover health-related components of the school’s reopening plans, including:
- COVID-19 testing
- Sanitizing, cleaning, and disinfecting classroom areas, as well as residential areas and central gathering places
- Reconfiguring campuses to accommodate social distancing, i.e., classroom sizes and layouts, plexiglass barriers, and signage
- Digital learning and technology fees
- Health and wellness fees that cover testing programs
- In most cases, if schools shut down or transition to remote learning, no refunds are being given for tuition, room and board, or any fees, including mitigation fees
- If you live off campus and your college transitions to remote-only classes, you may find yourself with expenses for moving and/or storage, as well as utility disconnection fees
Keep These Things in Mind, Too
If your school requires a negative COVID test before returning to school, your insurance company may not pay for the tests unless medically necessary. However, you can visit your primary care doctor, explain the need for the test, and request a prescription. This should compel your insurance to cover the cost.
If at any time you get sick with COVID-19, your health plan should cover the cost of care and treatment.
Remember, student health fees don’t cover health insurance. Luckily, for the foreseeable future, you are eligible to remain on your parent’s insurance plan until you are 26 years of age. If you do remain on your parent’s plan, it’s important to understand how the benefits work if you are moving to a school out of state.
Will College Tuition Change Because of Coronavirus?
There has been a growing call for discounts or reduced tuition based on the learning venue. To date, most schools are holding fast and charging full tuition regardless of the class format. Apart from Princeton University reducing their tuition by 10%, most colleges are keeping their tuition at the rates announced before the public health emergency.
What Can You Do About Extra Expenses During COVID?
Depending on the amount of your shortfall, you may be able to work additional hours, cut back on expenses, or buy a less expensive meal plan. If your gap is significantly bigger than you can manage through savings, consider a federal work study program where you work part-time in your field of study earning an hourly wage.
Another solution may be to apply for additional financial aid if the COVID pandemic is creating a hardship for you or your family. If your ability to pay tuition is threatened by extraordinary circumstances, such as loss of a job or furlough, you can apply to renegotiate financial aid awards.
When you appeal an award, your case undergoes a professional judgment review by the college. Be sure that you adequately demonstrate exceptional circumstances. With COVID-19 in full swing, you won’t be alone in asking for supplemental funds.
How to Get Additional Help with College Costs
If you have reached the maximum in terms of federal student loans, scholarship money, and family savings, you may want to consider a private student loan to fill any gaps in your funding plan.
Private student loans are available from private banks and lenders and have very favorable lending rates and repayment terms. With individual banks, you can choose between fixed and variable rate loans.
A fixed rate loan has one interest rate that is applicable throughout the life of the loan.
With a variable rate loan, your interest is kept low in the beginning to help when you have limited income or are in school. Annually, the rate is adjusted according to the prime bank rate and your monthly payment can go up or down. While this type of loan is considered riskier, it can be a tremendous help in the first years with a low initial rate.
What Will You Need to Apply?
If you or your parents are applying for a private student loan, it will require a solid credit history and strong income. As a student, you may not have built an adequate credit file, so you also have the choice of having a cosigner.
A cosigner, either a family member or friend, is someone who will sign on your behalf and take responsibility, along with you, of the loan repayment. You will make the payments, but the cosigner will be responsible for the loan if you can no longer pay. The great thing about a cosigner is it allows you to build your credit history while paying off your student loans.
Compare Rates on Private Student Loans
Purefy understands that the process of selecting a student loan can be confusing. To help, we have developed an advanced rate comparison tool that takes of couple pieces of your information and returns with pre-approved rates from our top lenders.
Our tool lets you compare interest rates and repayment options on private student loans that have no origination fees or prepayment penalties. These are not “teaser” rates, but serious rates that allow you to select a lender and begin the final application process.
College students may be dealing with extra expenses during COVID-19, but there are things that can be done to make college finances easier to manage.
Be sure that you have maximized all of your funding options, such as federal loans, grants, scholarships, and work study programs. Then consider private student loans as a buffer to fill in any gaps.
Purefy is available to help you understand your private student loan options. Check out what our best lenders have to offer at Purefy.