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A&M-CC students frustrated by COVID-19 costs

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Posted at 10:43 PM, Jul 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-23 23:44:02-04

Because of COVID-19, learning at universities has been far from normal. So much so, that several Texas A&M Corpus Christi students reached out to KRIS 6 about some concerns they have about the upcoming school year, which they say will cost them more money.

One student, who wanted to remain anonymous, says she has to pay additional fees for distance education. The fees were $75 in the spring semester, then $125 for both summer semesters, and an additional $200 for the fall.

She recently learned about another charge through email.

“I was just told by my professor that we’re going to be charged an extra $75 because they’re moving the course that was supposed to be face-to-face, to online,” she said.

In a statement from TAMUCC, they said: “A distance education fee applies and will be assessed as this fee covers digital tools, online services, and faculty development specifically for those classes online. If a class has recently been moved online from an in person format due to the COVID situation, there is no additional fee.”

The student also said she’s still paying for services she no longer has access to or has limited access to; things such as the wellness center, the university center, health services and the library.

When she reached out to the university, however, she was told she couldn’t get refunded.

“They’re not willing to refund any of that, and it’s just ridiculous because we’re not able to use these things.”

The University statement went on to say: “Tuition and fees are used to create and promote programs that enhance the student experience as well as facilities for these programs and services. Students still have access to those programs and services although they may be provided in a different format. For example, the Health Services team implemented Tele-Health to allow access to health care professionals from anywhere and tutoring services are available virtually. Additionally, these fees are used to fund positions dedicated to the creation and promotion of programs to enhance the student experience. Moving to a non-traditional learning environment does not mean that these services should cease to operate. It is more important than ever to provide students with a sense of the campus experience.”

Meanwhile, A&M-CC freshman Matthew Valdez said he can’t get out of a lease he signed at Momentum Village before the novel coronavirus pandemic began.

“Had I known about the risks like I do now, I wouldn’t have signed,” Valdez said. “I would’ve saved thousands of dollars in rent.”

Valdez said he reached out to American Campus Communities about his concern and “they said I would have to withdraw from the university and pay a $1,000 fine on top of that. And so I said ‘that doesn’t really sound right.’”

Valdez said he doesn’t feel safe living on campus, and will stay back home in Ingleside during the upcoming semester.

“I’m not sure how my roommates live, or if they go out, and come back and bring the virus back and get me sick,” he said.

For now, Valdez said, he will bite the bullet and continue to pay rent in a place in which he's not living.

“As this point, I would much rather stay at home,” he said. “Do they care about our health or the money more than they do us?”

In another statement from TAMUCC: “The COVID-19 pandemic has created many unique situations for the campus and changes in students’ circumstances. We are continuously working through the ever-changing environment our students are facing. Each student’s situation is different and we are trying to work with each of them on an individual basis. If students are experiencing financial hardships, or their circumstances have changed, we encourage them to contact the Financial Aid Office to discuss options at 361-825-2338.”

“In terms of student housing, university housing properties are owned by Collegiate Housing Foundation (CHF) and managed by American Campus Communities (ACC). However, one of the advantages of living on campus is the University staff works to resolve any issues whenever possible. We are aware of this situation and are investigating possible solutions. Islander Housing properties will be open for the fall semester. All floor plans on campus allow for appropriate social distancing, most units provide a private bathroom, and no more than two students share a bathroom in any floor plan. Routine cleaning of common spaces will occur more frequently and be tracked via a daily checklist. Signage and physical barriers will be utilized in the hallways. The staff will provide additional tools and facilitate environmental measures for further social distancing, including temporary closure of other areas (common or residential) if necessary. Each resident will also be provided a personal spray bottle of disinfectant to use as they deem necessary. Bottles can be refilled as needed. For questions about leases, call ACC at 512-732-1000."