University Announces Free Courses for Summer 2021

McShane unveils free summer courses and details changes to housing fees and refunds



All students enrolled at Fordham this academic year will be able to take up to two online courses this summer for free, either in-person or remotely.


Full-time students can now take up to two classes at no additional charge this summer through Fordham. University President Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J., announced the opportunity in response to challenges created by the coronavirus pandemic in an email sent to the Fordham community on Sept. 15.

Fordham’s 2021 summer offerings will be expanded to include a greater number of courses required for graduation, undergraduate research opportunities, internships that carry academic credit and opportunities through the School of Professional and Continuing Studies. 

Free Summer Course Offerings

Bob Howe, assistant vice president for communications, was not able to provide a definitive format for the summer courses due to the unpredictability of the pandemic. However, he stated that the university will most likely offer a mix of in-person, hybrid and fully online courses.

The email also mentions the addition of “special-topics courses” that are not available during the academic year. Howe said that the university is currently working on these courses; relevant information will be shared as soon as it is available. 

In the email, McShane said that “The University itself has … likewise been challenged to adapt, and quickly, as never before.”

This announcement followed McShane’s State of the University address on Sept. 14, a comprehensive look into the university’s antiracist efforts, pandemic response, endowment, admission demographics, ranking information and student and faculty achievements. McShane stated that the university is continuously committed to providing a “world-class Jesuit education” to students. 

“Two free courses doesn’t put a bandaid on a comparatively subpar remote education, a global health crisis, and an economic recession.” Gabby Etzel, FCLC ’22

Kyan Hejazi, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) ’22, said that the move for free summer courses was “extremely exciting but frustrating because people will be out of NY by then — they should have made this decision a long time ago COVID or not.”

Fairfield University, a Jesuit institution in Connecticut, also offered free summer courses to students but the proposal was implemented this past summer. To support incoming first-years in the transition to online classes at college, the administration decided to offer one free online course and expanded course offerings significantly. 

Despite the anticipated success of the two free online courses, some Fordham students remain unimpressed with the university’s attempts to address student complaints about increased tuition and fees. 

“Two free courses doesn’t put a bandaid on a comparatively subpar remote education, a global health crisis, and an economic recession,” Gabby Etzel, FCLC ’22, said. “The university responded to our plea for a reduction in tuition like it was charity….and the free courses are perfunctory and borderline insulting.”

Changes to Housing Fees and Refunds

McShane also announced that room and housing fees for the fall 2020 semester will be adjusted on a pro rata basis to reflect the end of hybrid learning at Thanksgiving break. Previously, pro rata refunds were only to be issued if the residence halls were to close earlier in the semester because of the pandemic.

According to McShane, Fordham’s financial aid budget has been “increased significantly to alleviate the economic impact of education expenses on families experiencing sudden and extreme financial hardship.” 

“This new plan for free credits is going to be very helpful, and has restored my faith in Fordham.” Aysesu Yilmaz, FCLC ’22

The university has also been waiving late fees and deferring financial holds on overdue student accounts, and it has committed to working with families to resolve financial challenges. 

McShane said all non-essential university spending has been slashed and all salaries have been frozen. He acknowledged that while the university seeks to avoid further cost-cutting actions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, “they are a distinct possibility given the challenging budget picture.”

“Besides getting partial refunds on our spring 2020 dorms, this is the first time since the COVID pandemic started that Fordham has taken its students’ needs into account,” Aysesu Yilmaz, FCLC ’22, said. “Given the unprecedented economic and academic difficulties during the pandemic, this new plan for free credits is going to be very helpful, and has restored my faith in Fordham.”

McShane ended his email by saying that as a result of the actions the university has taken he believes that “students will experience an outstanding, transformative Jesuit education this school year, delivered by dedicated and innovative faculty, despite the circumstances.”