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USC to raise tuition 3.5% whether classrooms reopen amid coronavirus shutdown or not

USC officials attribute rising tuition to the cost of attracting top faculty and making campus improvements.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

The University of Southern California will increase tuition 3.5% for the 2020-2021 academic year regardless of whether it holds most classes online.

Undergraduate tuition will be set at $59,260, an increase of $2,004, according to Annenberg Media, a student-led news service that first reported the hike on Thursday.

USC is among many universities nationwide that closed their classrooms to students this spring and switched to online instruction to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Some students are still living in residence halls, however, and critical employees such as campus police remain on duty.

USC will not give partial tuition refunds for spring or summer sessions even though the campus moved instruction online due to the coronavirus outbreak, Provost Charles Zukoski says.

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USC is considering whether to at least partially reopen classrooms for fall if it can be done safely. A decision may be announced in June.

School trustees approved the tuition increase before the pandemic, a USC statement said.

“It mirrors last year’s change in tuition, which was among the smallest percentage increases in 50 years,” the statement said.

The hike “will help fund the high-quality education, broad range of outstanding academic programs and important research activities that are the hallmarks of USC,” it said.

The statement also said that the school expects to have “significant new expenditures to ensure the health and safety” of students, faculty and staff.

Cal State Fullerton says that amid coronavirus uncertainty it will prepare to start the fall semester with online instruction. Will other campuses follow suit?

The school earlier said it was looking at safety measures such as virus testing and physically distancing students.

Student fees and tuition account for about 30% of USC’s operating revenues, according to a 2019 financial statement. The school has said it is facing an operating finance shortfall of $300 million to $500 million because of higher costs and lost revenue as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

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Other university systems also are grappling with how or when to reopen. California State University will hold most fall classes online and leave classrooms closed, Chancellor Timothy White announced Tuesday.


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