Holmes Hall

Holmes Hall is one of many dorm-living options for students on the University of Kentucky campus in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Kaitlyn Gumm | Staff

UK students can now check which of their fall courses are traditional in-person instruction, hybrid or online-only. 

Student can log into their myUK portals, go to schedule and click on each class to see which format the class will take. The tag “distance learning-hybrid” the course is a combination of online and in-person instruction and if it says “distance learning-internet, web-based,” the class will be taught completely virtually.

According to UK spokesperson Jay Blanton, students' myUK accounts were first updated with the changes on Saturday, July 18. While students were not individually notified of the changes to their courses and no campus-wide email has been sent out, UK released a statement on their Facebook and Twitter pages concerning the changes on Sunday, July 19. 

UK's Statement on Facebook

UK posted a statement on their Facebook Sunday evening regarding concerns surrounding the shift in class instruction methods. 

Blanton said that the changes were made to comply with CDC physical distancing guidelines regarding COVID such as classroom configurations that allow students to maintain a six-foot distance from each other. 

Approximately two-thirds of all fall semester courses and nearly every freshman’s schedule will have a component of in-person instruction at least, according to UK’s statement. 

“That flexibility is how we are going to keep people – our students, our faculty and our staff -- safe and healthy,” the statement reads. “We promise we are making these moves with the health and safety of everyone as our top priority.”

Blanton said that barring normal adjustments from additional registrations, add/drops and changing enrollment, the class formats students see on their myUK pages now should not change.

Students whose schedules include multiple hybrid or fully online classes will not receive a discounted tuition, Blanton said. 

“There are costs associated with instruction regardless of the format – the faculty who teach; the new technology in many cases for online or streaming that is being added to classrooms,” he said.

In mid-July, UK announced they would be capping tuition at $6,242 and $15,647 for in-state and out-of-state students, respectively, no matter how many online or hybrid classes they were enrolled in. In previous years, students incurred an additional charge for each online class they took. 

Several students and parents expressed their frustration with the class format decision on Facebook, accusing UK of a "bait-and-switch" for making students pay to live on campus when they only have a few in-person classes. Some also criticized the university for not notifying them of the changes earlier so they could have avoided housing, meal plan and other costs, or enrolled in a community college for a semester. 

Fall semester classes were planned as a mix of traditional, hybrid and online courses, but students were not able to see their individual course breakdown until July 18, a month from the fall semester's start date and two days after an important housing withdrawal deadline.

"My son is a freshman and all of his classes are 100% online," wrote Monique Asmann in a Facebook comment under UK's statement. "Very few of his friends have any hybrid and none have in-person classes...If this information was provided last week, we would have pulled him out of school for the year but now we are stuck." 

According to the campus housing contract, first-year students who back out of campus housing after July 16 have to pay 30 percent of the lowest housing facility rate for both fall and spring semesters. Returning students who back out of housing after July 16 are responsible for 100 percent of their fall contract.

According to UK Housing, the lowest housing facility rate for the 2020-21 school year is $3,863 per semester, so first-year students backing out of campus housing between July 16 and August 1 are still responsible for $2,318 in housing payments.

Returning students who have previously lived in campus housing and wish to cancel after June 16 will pay more than first-time students. According to the housing contract, they must pay 100 percent of their selected assigned housing facility and dining plan for the fall semester, as well as half of the spring semester's cost. If they haven’t yet chosen a room or dining plan as of the cancellation date, they will be charged the lowest housing and dining rates, according to the housing contract's cancellation policy. 

If returning students had chosen the cheapest housing option, $3,863 per semester, and cheapest resident dining option, $1,620 per semester, those students would be responsible for $8,224. 

Had they chosen mid-range housing and dining plans, like a two-bedroom suite and the All Access Blue meal plan, the amount a returning student is liable for increases to $10,168. 

Peyton Wilson, a sophomore UK student with three online classes, one hybrid class and one in-person class, was one of many students upset about the class changes. 

"I struggled a lot with my online classes last semester," Wilson said. "It's rough having to pay for a dorm and meal plan because of a single class."

Other social media users praised UK's response amid the COVID pandemic.

"Thank you UK for doing the best you can, trying to keep everyone safe during these crazy times," commented Rene' Flynn, parent of a junior transfer student.

Students must file an appeal to the Housing and Dining Appeals Committee on the grounds of financial hardship, medical hardship or administrative release to cancel their housing contracts. According to the housing contract, filing an appeal does not guarantee a release from the contract. Their date of cancellation determines what portion of their original housing and dining costs they will still be charged. 

According to UK’s statement, students with questions about their schedules should contact their advisors.

Emily Girard, Haley Blackburn and Lauren Campbell contributed reporting.