July is here, and colleges are scrambling to finalize plans for the 2020-21 school year; many colleges expect to return students to campus for in-person classes and on-campus housing. Although there is still reason to believe these plans may require changes, including a sudden pivot to remote learning, students and families are being asked to take a leap of faith.
Of course, students and families need to consider the health risks of returning to school, yet many other risks may exist. Here are some things to look for—and question—before desire to return to “normal” causes you sign college contracts. Read carefully and know if you agreeing to:
- Waive a partial refund on housing and meal expenses if your campus closes suddenly? If so, you will get NO money back for food or shelter you did not receive.
- Allow others to move your personal items and accepting the loss of any items misplaced or damaged in the move? How important is your “stuff”?
- Waive the school’s liability if you get sick with COVID-19? If so, check your health insurance status before you go, and have family plans if you must strictly quarantine.
- Allow monitoring of your health data and location as colleges implement contact tracing? Be sure to know what privacy you have, and what you do not.
Many students cannot afford to waive their rights. A quick return home, especially if it is the second sudden evacuation in 2020, can be expensive. If there will be no refund on room and board and students find they have new expenses associated with replacing personal items or significant healthcare costs, the decision to waive rights may prove disastrous.
Don’t skim and don’t assume. As you sign housing contracts, meal plan agreements, liability waivers, or any other documents associated with your college, read every line. Ask about items that are unclear or confusing. If you don’t understand, ask again. If you disagree with policies, consider organizing advocacy efforts to change campus plans, policies, or practices. If you would like to know more about on-campus organizing or need support, please contact the League of Student Advocates.
This is not time to trust blindly or just hope for the best. The Scholarship Foundation will continue to issue advisories through the summer. If you would like to sign up to receive these advisories in your email, please subscribe here.
Need to discuss the fine print? Our team is here to help. If you are new to The Scholarship Foundation and would like to be connected with a Foundation Advisor, please complete this brief intake form and we will be in touch with you. Current Scholarship Foundation students can contact the Foundation or call or email their Advisor directly.