College fees disgust some CA students during pandemic

The transition to online classes at Sac State has led to decreased class quality and less engagement between professors and students, yet tuition and fees have not decreased, according to an anonymous student. (Photo courtesy of

While some California college students say they are pleased with their school’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, others say they are infuriated that the closure of campuses was not followed by a reduction in cost of attendance. 

While all local colleges have offered their students federal emergency financial aid, the cost of tuition and fees at California State University, Sacramento, University of California, Davis and and the colleges in the Los Rios Community College District, including American River College have remained static since the onset of the pandemic, according to their official websites.

According to one Sac State student, who wished to remain anonymous due to concerns over a backlash from the school, many students agree that tuition and fees are unreasonably high during a pandemic. 

“Sac State has close to a billion dollar surplus,” the student said. “We are still being charged for athletic games, cafeterias, and the gym even though these services are no longer available for us to use.”

The student is one of many who is demanding partial refunds for the mandatory fees they were charged during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“They have to provide us a partial refund, otherwise I will never forgive Sac State for the situation they [have] put their students in, [during these] difficult times,” the student said. “If they don’t refund us, I will be ashamed to call myself a hornet.”

According to an April 28 Los Angeles Times article, a group of students filed a class action lawsuit, alleging that UC and Cal State systems owe millions of dollars to students who can no longer use health facilities, student centers and services funded by campus fees because they’ve been unavailable to them since the beginning of the pandemic.

According to a letter from Robert Nelsen, president of Sac State, sent out in response to students who requested reductions in cost of attendance due to the pandemic, students will not be receiving refunds.

“Students pay tuition and campus mandatory fees regardless of whether they are a full-time student, part-time student, online student or a student studying abroad – and even if they do not expect to ever use the programs or facilities they support,” Nelsen said. 

In the letter, Nelsen also explained that reducing tuition and mandatory fees would be inappropriate, due to the fact that instruction and related expenses are still occurring. 

“Reducing tuition and mandatory campus fees in the midst of the economic impacts of this pandemic would necessarily lead to increased employee layoffs, and would adversely affect course availability, academic programs, and time to graduation,” Nelsen said.

According to Sac State’s website, tuition for California resident undergraduates for the fall 2020 semester equals $2,871 when taking six or more units. There are additional mandatory campus fees that equal $838 per semester. Thus, the total cost to attend Sac State in the fall of 2020 for full-time resident students equals $3,709, or $7,418 for the 2020-2021 school year.

According to UC Davis’s website, tuition and fees for California resident undergraduate students to attend UC Davis equal $14,597.27 for the 2020-2021 school year, over $3,000 of which is for campus-based fees.

Tuition at American River College for full-time students who are California residents equals $552 for the fall 2020 semester, according to ARC’s website. There are additional mandatory fees that equal $37 per semester including a universal transit pass fee, health services fee and a $2 student representation fee. Eligible students are receiving a 50% discount for universal transit pass fees for the fall semester due to most classes being held online during the pandemic.

According to its website, ARC has provided Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund grants between $100 and $400 to students with the most financial need. These grants were made possible by the CARES Act.

According to Leandro Acevedo, a first-year business major at ARC, the college’s administration has provided adequate financial assistance to students during the pandemic. 

“I’ve gotten even extra financial aid for books and items for school, so I have not had to pay any out of pocket money besides the enrollment fees,” Acevedo said. “Overall, I think ARC has done a good job with school in the pandemic given the circumstances.”