Public universities in Kansas face tuition refund mandate

A Kansas House budget committee has approved a measure amendment that could require higher education institutions in the state to provide tuition refunds to students that made the switch to online learning during COVID-19. The amendment would apply to six public universities including KU and KSU.

The Kansas House budget committee voted in support of an amendment in the state’s higher education budget to require colleges and universities to provide tuition rebates to students who switched to online courses during the pandemic. 

The amendment would require six state universities to provide students with a 100 percent tuition rebate for online classes and a 50 percent tuition refund for days cut from the academic calendar due to COVID.

Universities the amendment applies to includes Wichita State University, Fort Hays State University, Kansas State University, Emporia State University, Pittsburg State University and The University of Kansas.

The amendment was introduced by Representative Sean Tarwater (Republican). There is no estimate of what compliance would cost these six universities.

Many colleges have used federal relief aid to refund students some or all of their fees for tuition, room, and board. Students, too, have been vocal in demanding refunds. 

Lawmakers are divided in their opinion on the amendment. Some went on to describe the difficulties their children have experienced during online classes, arguing that schools were not doing enough to support the virtual learning experience.

The higher education budget must be approved as part of the state’s overall budget. It needs the approval of the full House as well as the state senate.

Lawmakers are still unclear about the financial impact of this amendment without knowing how much the state will receive in federal stimulus spending.