Some Colleges to Give Students Partial Refund for Room and Board

March 16, 2020 Updated: March 16, 2020

More than 200 universities and colleges across the United States have closed their dorms and shifted classes online, leaving many students and parents wondering whether or not they will be refunded for on campus services, such as food and housing.

Ohio State University (OSU), which has canceled in-person classes for the remainder of the semester, announced Sunday afternoon that it will partially refund students forced to move out of the campus due to the coronavirus threat.

In a letter on Sunday to its residence hall students, the OSU said it “will provide an appropriate prorated refund of housing and dining to those of you departing the residence halls by Sunday, March 22.”

“I am moved and impressed by the way our entire community is coming together to meet this challenge, and to keep each other safe and healthy,” OSU President Michael Drake wrote in the letter, adding that the details of the reimbursement plan would be announced next week.

The university’s decision came after an online petition by students requesting refunds generated support from the campus community.

“While the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus is ultimately out of the control of the university, it is completely unreasonable for the student body to pay the full cost of tuition and, if applicable, housing,” the petition on Change.org reads. As of Monday, the petition has gained almost 28,000 supporting signatures.

Meanwhile in Rhode Island, Brown University is asking on-campus students to leave by March 22 after a community member tested positive for COVID-19, the disease the Wuhan coronavirus causes. Students are expected to complete their courses “from their homes or at an alternate location away from campus.”

Christina H. Paxson, president of the Ivy League school, promised in a March 12 letter that students would receive a credit on their accounts for the unused portion of their housing and dining fees.

“Credit will be prorated based on each family’s contribution to the cost of attendance,” she clarified. “Graduating seniors will receive a prorated refund for the unused portion of their room and board.”

At Roger Williams University (RWU), 14 miles from Brown, questions regarding refunds or credits related to room and board fees have become the most common questions the school has receiving from students and parents, according to the RWU website.

“We expect to have more information by the end of next week on this question of reimbursement or future semester credits,” the website states, adding that the RWU will notify the students and parents once the school administration has made a decision.

In New York, Cornell University said on March 13 that it would give a rebate on housing and dining to on-campus students who were leaving. The Ivy League school announced earlier that it was moving to remote learning for the remainder of the semester after its spring break.

According to the College Board, a student who attends a four-year in-state school generally pays an average of $11,510 for room and board during the 2019-20 school year. Students at a private four-year school pay $12,990 on average.