Will Colleges Issue A Corona Virus Refund?

Even students who commute to college might be eligible for some financial relief. For instance, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, or Septa—used by a number of commuter students in the Philadelphia area—has said it would process refunds on an as-received basis for unused and partly used student-discount passes for March, and weekly passes for the weeks of March 9 and March 16.

Some schools are sending information about refunds directly to parents, some to students only, and some are sending to both.

Here’s a sampling of what some schools have announced so far:

Amherst College: The school began sending refund checks the week of March 23 for prorated room-and-board fees for students who left campus. The size of the credit depends on the family’s contribution toward those fees, but the school says it will be a minimum of $1,750.

California Institute of Technology: For students no longer living on campus, Caltech won’t charge room and board for the third term, which was supposed to start March 30. Those who paid ahead will receive a refund for the time they aren’t on campus, according to the school’s website. Students who receive financial aid beyond tuition and fees will have living-expense funds disbursed to their bursar account; those funds can be withdrawn and used for living expenses while the student attends Caltech online during the third term.

Columbia University: Students will receive a prorated housing refund based on the day they checked out of their residence hall. First-year dining plans also will be refunded based on the checkout date. Voluntary meal-plan refunds will be issued for all unused meals. Undergraduates in need received up to $500 for flights, storage or other costs related to moving. Learning resources will be available online at no cost to all students affected by the pandemic.

Florida State UniversityThe university plans to begin issuing electronic refunds the week of April 6 for unused portions of housing and meal plans, based on a last service date of March 23.

James Madison University: The school plans to offer refunds for housing and unused dining plans. Information about these refunds and/or credits is forthcoming, according to the school’s website.

Harvard University: Room-and-board charges will be prorated from March 15 for students forced to vacate campus housing. Changes to family bills are in process, according to a March 17 email to parents. Activity and student fees will be reviewed on a school-by-school basis, the university says on its website.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology: All undergraduates who had been living in on-campus housing have been sent prorated housing and meal plan refunds, a spokeswoman says. For students who had been living in fraternities, sororities and independent-living groups, MIT is working closely with the individual chapters to initiate refunds and says it expects them to be fulfilled in coming weeks. MIT is refunding half of the spring-semester student-life fees to all students who paid them.

Rutgers University: Housing, dining and parking charges will be credited to each eligible student’s account. The refunds will be calculated on a prorated basis from March 23. In addition, the university says it won’t place holds on accounts with past-due balances.

Stanford University: Spring housing and dining charges will be removed for undergraduate students no longer on campus, according to the school’s website. The date the charges will be removed is to be determined. The undergraduate student-activities fee will be reduced to $27 from $171 for the spring quarter. There will be no financial holds or late fees associated with certain spring charges, according to the university’s website.

Stevens Institute of Technology: The school’s housing and dining services were closed on March 27, and students living on campus or enrolled in a college dining plan for the spring 2020 semester will receive a prorated refund for those charges. The refund will be applied as a credit to the student’s Stevens account. If there is a credit balance, students can choose to receive a refund check or have the credit applied to their summer 2020 or fall 2020 charges. Housing and dining charges that are covered by university scholarships or grants, or outside scholarship funding won’t be refunded.

University of Chicago: Students not living in a residence hall during the spring quarter won’t be charged room and board. Students forced to vacate their residence halls won’t be assessed a student-services fee. Any balances of Maroon Dollars, used for on-campus purchases, will be refunded in June for graduating students and rolled over to the next academic year for returning students, according to the school’s website.

University of Kentucky: The school has told parents it is developing a process for refunds for parking, housing and dining, but hasn’t yet provided details.

Yeshiva University: The school has told families they will be updated after the Passover holiday about any policy changes related to potential credits or refunds for housing.

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