Update (MAY 4, 2020 4:50 p.m.):
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia University Board of Governors announced Friday, May 1, that plans are in place for all three campuses of the university to hold in-person courses for the fall semester.
“We have every hope and expectation of safely resuming in-person education in Morgantown, Beckley and Keyser for the fall semester,” President Gordon Gee said. “The safety and well-being of students, faculty and staff, as well as the community will drive decisions, but we believe it will be possible to restart classes on campus, albeit with new measures, guidelines and precautions to inhibit the spread of COVID-19.”
The release also explained that the base tuition and fees will remain unchanged for the upcoming academic year, which begins in August. Those amounts are as followed:
- 8,976 per year for West Virginia residents
- $25,320 per year for non-residents
“I think that this is a wise move on the part of the university and it really does signal a very clear intent on our willingness to make certain that we are very cognizant of the needs of our families and our students,” Gee said.
Officials stated that a more detailed breakdown of other costs, including housing, dining and individual college costs will be formalized during the summer before the start of courses. Board Chairman, David Alvarez stated that financial challenges are still prevalent.
“While the university is facing financial challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, in the interest of our students and their families during these difficult times our board has chosen not to increase tuition for the 20-21 school year.”
The university explained that there will be no more than a 3 percent increase in dining and housing plans, with the only exception being housing at West Virginia University Institute of Technology in Beckley.
Provost Maryanne Reed described the planning process that is being developed to reach a final decision on fall operations.
“We are now engaged in our deep-dive contingency planning for fall,” she said. “While we are considering all possibilities, our primary focus is how to bring our students back to campus — while taking all necessary public health and safety measures.”
Reed said scenario planning will likely involve some changes to instructional delivery to reduce human density, providing protective gear to faculty, staff and students and conducting regular and thorough cleanings of classrooms, labs, residence halls and other university buildings, as well as widespread testing, tracing and isolation when warranted.
“But we also know that the COVID-19 pandemic will still be with us through the fall – and possibly next spring – and so we also must be prepared to respond should there be another surge of the virus that interrupts instruction and other campus activities,” she said.
Reed also discussed the pandemic’s impact on the University’s academics and enrollment.
“We received very few complaints from students about the quality of their academic experience, despite the fast turnaround to remote instruction under less-than-ideal circumstances,” she said. “I’m very proud of our students and faculty for pulling together, remaining positive and adapting quickly to a very difficult situation.
“Our colleges and schools also have done an excellent job pivoting to summer, transitioning nearly all on-campus instruction to an online format. Summer enrollments are down from last year, but not as low as we expected and we anticipate that our enrollments will grow.”Provost, Maryanne Reed
Another key concern created by the pandemic, according to the university has been its effect on enrollment, both incoming and current students. It’s not as significant as feared, she said.
“The number of fall registrations is down just slightly from last year, which is not surprising given that we start fall registration two weeks later than usual. The number of freshmen and sophomores who requested transcripts be sent to other institutions – a key indicator of the desire to transfer – was 20% lower than last year,” she said. “The number of students who withdrew from the spring semester altogether and have not registered for fall was down 50%.”
A year ago, WVU increased the cost to attend the University by the lowest percentage in at least two decades: 1.36%, or about $120 annually, for residents and 1.44%, or about $360 annually, for non-residents.
President Gee said that the decision to change tuition is made on a year-to-year basis, so he could not say whether or not the tuition freeze will last longer than the upcoming academic year.
Gee said another way the university plans on helping students mitigate the financial impact of the COVID-19 outbreak is through their “Giving Tuesday” 24-hour fundraiser, which will take place on Tuesday, May 5, 2020.
More information about the tuition and fees plan, quotes from the board of governors about the plans and reopening procedures is available on WVU’s website.