Harvard is shifting to online learning for 2020-21, but it’s still charging the same whopping tuition

Harvard classes coronavirus
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Though plenty of colleges have decided to hold in-person classes for the 2020-2021 school year despite the coronavirus pandemic, Harvard announced on July 6 that it was going in the opposite direction. Though some students can live on the Boston campus, Harvard classes during the pandemic will be exclusively online.

But as the Action Network’s Darren Rovell noted, Harvard is still going to charge its regular tuition of $49,653 for undergraduates. With fees, room, and board, all of that adds up to more than $72,000.

But the majority of students won’t be returning to campus. As the school’s press release states, 40% of undergraduates can move to campus for the fall semester, and assuming that percentage can remain the same for the spring, the university would try to bring back seniors to campus, That means freshman students who are on campus for fall would return home for remote learning for the second semester of the year.

“Some of the attributes that we most value about our campus are exactly the things that make adaptation to pandemic conditions particularly challenging,” the school wrote in a statement. “Our bustling urban environment, the ease of grabbing the T [subway] into Boston, our intergenerational residential communities that house 98% of our undergraduates, our global research community of students, faculty, staff, postdocs, and visitors from around the world—Harvard was built for connection, not isolation.”

School officials said that without a vaccine, they know that reopening the campus has risks for the health of its students and faculty. But as the pandemic continues, it’s worth questioning whether such a high-priced education is worth it if you can’t actually attend classes in person (and on Aug. 8, it was reported that more than 20% of the school’s incoming freshman class had deferred enrollment).

“I think it’s easy to imagine a world where students may not want to pay the Harvard sticker price to attend a prestigious university from their living room,” Forbes’ Robert Farrington wrote in June. “After all, many experts say that part of the value of an Ivy League education is in the networking and who you meet and collaborate with while you’re in school. With remote learning in place, this major benefit is off the table.”

The Chronicle of Higher Education is tracking 1,075 universities during the pandemic, and as of early July, 60% of those schools are planning to hold in-person classes in the fall. Meanwhile, 23% will unveil a hybrid model, and 8% will teach online only.

Recent COVID-19 models projected that as many 200,000 Americans could be dead by October. With those dire numbers and with the decision by the most prestigious university in the country to move all of its classes online, it wouldn’t be a surprise if more universities follow Harvard’s lead and move to remote learning exclusively.

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Sources: Harvard, Action Network, Forbes, Chronicle of Higher Education

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