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You Shouldn't Complain / Why MBA Students Shouldn't Get Reimbursed for the Spring 2020 Semester

Updated: Sep 27, 2020

- Was written on May 21 for Ethics in Business Class at Stony Brook University

“It is dangerous forecasting the future when underlying assumptions are uncertain and changing importantly daily,” said Professor Vedder of Ohio University on Forbs Magazine. “We are going to see more colleges and universities close in the next couple of years or so than at any other time in American history” (Vedder, 2020).

In March 2020, a health emergency hit the world and forced universities to switch from in-person class settings to online classes and learning environments. Shortly thereafter, students were forced to leave campus. As many predicted, students began suing universities with class-action status, demanding a partial refund for the semester of Spring 2020. The claim has been online classes do not have the same effectiveness as in-person classes, and therefore do not hold equal value. Thus, some believe online classes should be discounted.

In this paper, I will represent the university’s side in denying reimbursements for the MBA tuition of Spring 2020. My opinion is limited only to MBA students, not undergraduates, of whom fall under a different set of educational circumstances. Furthermore, this opinion refers only for the semester of Spring 2020, while considering the future tuition cost of Fall 2020 if it remains online.

When considering an in-person MBA program, three important sides of its value to consider are the degree, the quality of education, and the networking. Thus, when comparing the cost of an in-person MBA to an online MBA degree, one must ask themselves –how is the academic journey compromised when online in comparison to in-person?

Part one considers the MBA degree. Graduating MBA students will receive an MBA degree, as promised. Nevertheless, the degree holds the same importance and value, thus for that reason alone the tuition should not be discounted, (Nova, 2020).

Part two considers the quality of education in the academic journey. While the aspect of education has changed,the quality is not compromised. While the switch from in-person class meetings to online class meetings caught everyone including professors and students unprepared, it was taken seriously and completed in the most professional way possible. The classes were held by Zoom meetings, or were pre-recorded and uploaded to YouTube. Professors have invested a substantial amount of hours in efforts to accommodate the class being online, and have largely succeeded. In fact, The Business News Daily has posted a study that shows workers on remote are more productive than in-person workers. (Caramela, 2020).

Students were unhindered online in learning and practicing their business skills: presentation skills, as well as public speaking and discussion abilities on the virtual platform of the classroom. Students claiming that technology is distracting are facing a personal problem. According to Purcell and Rainie, “just 7% of working online adults feel their productivity has dropped because of the internet,email and cell phones, while 46% feel more productive,” (2014). The sessions were still taught by highly respected faculty that have years of experience in their respective fields. Furthermore, resources were still available to students via online libraries, and students were still able to meet with their professors individually via private Zoom meetings.

Students that claim they should be receiving a 15%-20% reimbursement on their tuition, must consider the following. First, tuition is used to pay for the salaries of faculty and staff, and they should notbe punished with a decrease in salary for the online switch as their responsibilities and work requirements were unchanged with the pandemic. Second, tuition is used to pay for maintenance, academic buildings, bonds, scholarships. These financial obligations have not changed due to the switch to online classes despite the fact that the buildings are empty. Third, tuition is used to subsidize academic research, education,and technology, which are important aspects that maintain the image and reputation of SBU as a highly respected research institution. This respect maintains the value and brand name on one’s resume that keeps enrollment high and competitive. These aspects became even more expensive in light of the current climate since SBU Hospital is one of the best in the state("Stony Brook University Hospital | Stony Brook Medicine", 2020). Finally, students that claim they should be receiving a 15%-20% reimbursement on their tuition because many institutions (for example, The University of Southern California and The University of Minnesota) offer such discount to their online program must consider that this discount is offered to increase enrollment –rather than discounting on the tuition of current students. Increasing enrollment with lower tuition brings in more net revenue. In a competitive enrollment where an institution has to cap enrollment, fewer people have to pay more to keep it competitive.

Although classes were held differently this semester, they were un-compromised. Should the school cut everyone’s tuition by 15%-20%, serious cuts in faculty need to be made in addition to administration. These cuts will affect the future prestige and value of the institution.

Lastly, Stony Brook University does recognize that changes are harder for some than others, thus students must not forget the privilege given to them by being able to choose a P/NC score for their classes in the Spring 2020 semester. Even if students struggled despite the excellent service they received on the online version of their MBA, they can choose not to let the score affect their GPA and future job prospects.

Part three is the networking experience of an MBA,which is challenged but not compromised. According to, what makes someone a qualified MBA student is passion (going “all in”), community service, leadership, problem-solving, innovation, and ambition. Accordingly, SBU MBA students should perceive the health crisis as an opportunity for further networking.Instead of complaining about the lack of in-person meetings, they should find an alternative solution by utilizing their free time to upgrade their career and innovate a possible project that can be the next great thing. Successful MBA students, and soon to be young professionals have the choice to stay engaged and tuned in, invest time in discovering what they are passionate about, and engage in community services. For example, there are countless virtual networking opportunities, some provided by SBU (the virtual services of the career center), and some free to all (LinkedIn). Not even the group projects aspect of the class was compromised, as students can meet via ZOOM at a convenient time, without having to factor in a specific location to meet which often makes coordination more complicated when holding group projects.

Successful, soon-to-be MBA graduates can and should have utilized the technology to network virtually (I know I did). Stony Brook University has held countless virtual workshops and career development lectures. Furthermore, the school held a virtual job fair. While virtual events do not provide the “in-person-hand-shake-suit-n-tie experience”, it is still an excellent professional opportunity to network.

In short, Stony Brook University has educated and inspired its MBA students to believe that there is nothing standing in the way of educational goals. As one often says, when one has lemons,make lemonade.

The presented facts display that the MBA college experience has not been compromised for most students in the Spring 2020 semester due to the switch to an online learning environment from in-person.

For the Fall of 2020, the school will make the decision to hold classes on campus or online. Then students can decide whether to attend or not, but the price should remain the same.



  • Caramela, S. (2020). Remote Workers Are More Productive. Retrieved 22 June 2020, from

  • Coronavirus Information | Stony Brook University. (2020). Retrieved 22 June 2020, from

  • Nova, A. (2020). Your college closed early because of coronavirus. You might not get your money back. Retrieved 22 June 2020, from

  • Purcell, K., & Rainie, L. (2014). Technology’s Impact on Workers. Retrieved 22 June 2020, from•Stony Brook University Hospital | Stony Brook Medicine. (2020). Retrieved 22 June 2020, from

  • What Makes Someone a Qualified MBA Student?. (2020). Retrieved 20 June 2020, from

  • Carlson School of Management. 2020. Full-Time MBA Tuition. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 7 June 2020].

  • 2020. Financial Aid | USC Marshall. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 7 June 2020]

  • USC Online MBA. 2020. MBA Tuition, Financial Aid & Scholarships -USC Online MBA. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 7 June 2020].

  • Vedder, R. (2020). Why The Coronavirus Will Kill 500-1,000 Colleges. Retrieved 22 June 2020, from


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