The Coronavirus College Scam

coronavirus college scam

My 20-year-old son attends Villanova University. It is a fine school, but this year it costs $70,000 a year for room, board and tuition—for online classes. This fall most colleges are charging full tuition to families like mine to have kids on campus without real classrooms. This is like going to a restaurant and never getting served, but still getting handed the bill.

My son decided to take a pass, and a full-time job instead. He’ll learn some valuable life skills from that experience, and he’ll likely go back when classes are back open. But millions of young people are back on campus this fall. In many college towns, crowded dorms, fraternities, sororities, and bars are open.

According to one report, college students represent 19 of the 25 hottest coronavirus outbreaks in the country with some 40,000 positive cases recorded in September, so administrators are suspending or even expelling students for irresponsible behaviors like going to crowded parties. But what did college presidents expect when they invited students back?

Almost none of the Covid-positive students have needed hospitalization, and most don’t even get sick. The risk to patients under 30 is minimal. But that doesn’t absolve the universities for making choices that benefit themselves at the expense of students, parents, and taxpayers, who foot the bill. The schools collect full tuition while students spread the virus and learn little they couldn’t be sitting in front of the computer in their parents’ house at a fraction of the cost.

Why? Follow the money. American higher education is big business, with total annual revenue of about $600 billion. Last spring, when schools sent students home midsemester, few bothered to refund their tuition. They are terrified that kids will save $150,000 by learning everything they need online, so education experts have trumpeted the value of the on-campus experience. Students are paying for classes they can’t attend. Administrators and professors get paid in full even though most refuse to come anywhere near their students.

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