By Anisha Girotra
LOS ANGELES — UCLA, now approaching its fourth quarter of remote learning, has made little to no accommodations or changes in tuition costs and fees despite students not having the same access to services as they did prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In August 2020, UCLA announced its plans for the fall quarter that consisted of remote-only instruction and reduced housing for undergraduate students. Omitting housing costs, UCLA stated that there would be no change in tuition or fees for the 2020-21 academic year regardless of the method of instruction.
This notion has continued throughout the 2020 Winter Quarter and the 2021 Spring Quarter and likely will not be amended in the 2021-22 academic year if remote or hybrid learning continues.
Students, regardless of whether or not they are on campus for classes, have to pay for many of the student services that they do not have access to.
For out-of-state and international students, this issue is also bothersome as they have to pay these fees in addition to paying non-resident tuition to take classes over Zoom.
According to BruinBill, a statement which details the tuition costs and fees for students, each quarter undergraduate students have to pay approximately $5400 in fees in addition to tuition, including fees for the Undergraduate Student Association, Student Services, the Ackerman Student Union, and the John Wooden Center. However, these services are all now all online, and many of these facilities are not open to students, even those living on campus.
Furthermore, first-year and transfer students had to pay an additional cost of $240 and $155, respectively, for New Student Orientation even though it was completely virtual.
At first glance, this may seem understandable as it was a 3-day session and UCLA had to pay New Student Advisors for their time. However, when compared to the costs of in-person orientation, the price of the virtual orientation was identical—but lacking the same amount of content and the benefits of in-person guidance.
In May 2020, the Daily Bruin reported that the University of California system “suffered $558 million worth of unexpected costs due to changes caused by the coronavirus pandemic.”
UCLA’s revenue losses occurred as a result of the cancellation of housing and dining contracts, academic conferences, and athletic and cultural events. They also faced monetary losses due to the technology upgrades needed for the shift to online school and setting up testing and care facilities for COVID-19 patients on campus.
In response, UC campuses received $220 million in March 2020 from Congress’s passing of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES). Stett Holbrook, a UC spokesperson, states that while this economic aid is helpful, it is not sufficient enough to cover even the first month of the COVID-19 response on UC campuses.
Thus, it is likely that UCLA has faced many more economic losses since May 2020 as a result of reduced housing, the shutdown of campus facilities and services, and remote learning. However, there has been no statement from UCLA or the UC system since then regarding the high tuition costs and fees for the 2020-21 academic year.
As a result of these high tuition costs and fees, various UCLA organizations have made efforts to help undergraduate students.
In January 2021, the UCLA Foundation, whose mission is “to promote and build philanthropy for UCLA,” announced that it would increase its quarterly payout of endowed funds from 4.25% to 5%.
This would result in a distribution of $129 million to campus fundholders during the 2020-21 fiscal year and $5 million to support students through financial aid and scholarship programs.
Similarly, the Undergraduate Students Association Council (USAC) at UCLA announced its 2021 Pandemic Relief Fund, which plans to distribute COVID-19 relief funds to undergraduate students financially impacted by the pandemic.
Managed by the Financial Supports Commission, they plan to select 482 students, including undocumented and international students, and give them $250 checks, amounting to more than $120,000 in relief funds.
Despite these efforts, many students still believe that UCLA’s administration should be more active in reducing tuition and fees for students during this economically challenging time and offer more financial aid directly to students rather than students having to find these financial accommodations on their own.
Anisha Girotra is a writer for the LA Vanguard’s social justice desk. She is a biochemistry major at UCLA, originally from Scottsdale, AZ.
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