Coronavirus Update for March 26: Spring Tuition and Fees

Dear Western Students,

We hope this message finds you healthy and safely enjoying the last couple of days of Spring Break.  We know that one of the primary concerns you and your families have is possible adjustments to spring tuition and fees because of the unforeseen adaptions we’ve been forced to make in response to an unprecedented global health crisis. As previously indicated, financial aid disbursements will go forward as scheduled on March 31, and in tandem with that we want to give you and your families some sense of what to expect regarding tuition and fees.

Spring quarter classes will resume on Monday, April 6, though not in the way any of us expected a few weeks ago.  Our world has been turned upside down, and none of us knows exactly how long the crisis will last.  Fortunately, Western Washington University is an adaptable, creative and caring community.  Please know that every available resource is being utilized to continue providing a high-quality education in light of disruption to nearly every facet of life.

We understand that for some of you there is an expectation that a financial adjustment is warranted because of the move to remote teaching and learning in spring quarter.  With the shift to online instruction for spring quarter, we are actually increasing our investment in instructional costs, and so tuition for spring quarter is not changing.

We continue to pay faculty and staff for their work, work that for many has increased dramatically as we rapidly shift to a virtual environment.  At the same time, we are making existing services available online and investing in new technological capabilities as we serve students remotely.  

Whether instructors present their classes in-person or online, we are still delivering an excellent education and the degree or credential you earn will have the same value.  The same professors scheduled to teach in-person classes this quarter will be teaching remotely, and they bring the same expertise, experience and knowledge to the remote courses as they have been to their in-person teaching.

Regarding academic course fees, these fall into a variety of categories that cover expenses that range from consumable materials used by students in classes, to equipment repair and replacement.  Spring quarter presents a scenario in which departments will be making adjustments to course fees according to what is being provided to students in the course.  Some fees will not be charged at all, while the majority will either be charged as posted or reduced to a level commensurate with what is provided during remote delivery of the course.  You can expect to learn about any course fee adjustments from your professors and on your student account. 

Regarding mandatory student fees, we are still assessing the fee structures in consultation with the Board of Trustees and our colleagues at other public, four-year institutions in Washington state.  It is important to understand that these mandatory fees cannot be altered or redirected to other uses without prior review and approval by the Board of Trustees.  We continue to review the impact of limited student services, and we will communicate any changes within the next two weeks.
Students will be able to access online academic advising, online counseling and health and wellness services, library and cloud-based research resources, and online career services, among other services.  As a result, the fees that support these programs must continue in order for those services to continue to be offered.  

In addition, many of these fees support bonds that were used to construct student-mandated projects.  The Multicultural Center and Wade King Student Recreation Center bonds were approved by a student vote, and must continue to be paid.  The technology fee supports access to laptops, cloud computing and critical software that is especially important in this virtual environment.  Fees also support student employment; we have many student employees working remotely whose wages are paid from student fee dollars.
One exception is a portion of the quarterly transportation fee.  Thanks to a special agreement between WWU and the Whatcom Transportation Authority, all WWU students receive a Student Bus Pass, good for unlimited rides throughout the WTA system. Payment for this pass comes from a portion of each students' quarterly transportation fee, however that fee has been waived for spring quarter. 

Information about housing and dining fees for spring quarter will be communicated directly to the students who continue to live on-campus. Students who are planning to leave university residences have received instructions on how to complete that process in a way that is consistent with the Governor’s stay-at-home order.

We know that in a time filled with so much uncertainty you may be looking for as many assurances as possible.  We appreciate your understanding as we continue to manage a rapidly-changing landscape and make decisions that are in the best interest of your education continuity and the well-being of our community members, especially those most vulnerable among us.

With appreciation for your partnership,

Brent Carbajal and Melynda Huskey
Provost & Vice President for Academic Affairs and Vice President for Enrollment & Student Services 


The Incident Command System team at Western has established three goals for all of our preparation and response to COVID-19:  to protect life safety and minimize the spread of the coronavirus illness, to maintain – as much as possible – the continuity of Western’s operations, and to communicate with our communities as fully as possible.

Western's coronavirus information website features Frequently Asked Questions; has links to campus, regional and national resources; an archive of campus messaging and media stories about coronavirus; a new toll-free campus coronavirus information line, and more. The site is a living document, and will get frequent updates as the coronavirus situation evolves.


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Friday, March 27, 2020 - 11:25am