Clemson trustees approve dining, housing refunds for students amid coronavirus pandemic
Clemson University board of trustees voted Wednesday to allow the administration to issue millions of dollars in refunds for students amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The unanimous vote approves the university to refund more than $15 million in housing, dining, parking and other fees to students and staff members who were not able to come back to campus after the coronavirus forced campus partial closure in March.
For every day a service was not available to students – like housing, dining, parking, campus recreation facilities – they will be credited that money back onto their student account, according to university spokesperson Joe Galbraith.
If the credits create a positive balance on a student's account, the money will be refunded through direct deposit or a mailed check, Galbraith said.
Fees being refunded:
- Meal plans
- Campus activity
- Campus recreation
Of the $15.6 million in refunds the university will issue, about $8 million will go towards housing and $6 million in dining, according to VP of FInance and Facilities Tony Wagner. The remaining refunded fees total to about $1 million, Wagner told the board.
Students and employees will be reimbursed for 42 days of unused fees, according to a presentation Wagner gave to the board Wednesday.
Galbraith said all refunds should be processed by April 10.
"Our finance team is working diligently to get unused fees back to our students as quickly as possible," he said.
Clemson follows CHE guidelines
At noon Wednesday, South Carolina's Commission on Higher Education released guidelines that all public colleges and universities should issue refunds to eligible students for every day they were not able to access housing or dining halls on campus.
The announcement states that each institution could choose whether students would be issued refunds or lost funds would be credited to student accounts, to be used for next year's fees.
Galbraith said the university scheduled the emergency board meeting as soon as they became aware of the CHE's guidelines.
Two weeks ago, several South Carolina universities and colleges – including the University of South Carolina and Furman University – committed to issuing refunds and a student-written petition garnered thousands of signatures in support of Clemson issuing similar refunds.
Galbraith said the university held off on committing to similar actions because they were committed to addressing the safety and health needs of the Clemson community first.
"We wanted to first coordinate with the state and our partner institutions ... before finalizing our plans," President Jim Clements told the board Wednesday.
The university is still assessing how best to issue refunds for staff members and non-employees, Galbraith said.
For the 407 students who were granted exemptions to remain in their on-campus residences through the end of the semester, only refunds for services they do not have use, like campus gyms, will be issued, Galbraith said.
The administration was approved to refund, rebate or grant up to $25 million in university funds to address the impact of the coronavirus impact, although expected costs total only $22 million, according to VP of Finance and Facilities Tony Wagner.
The refunds would include costs incurred for moving online, refunding athletic tickets and other academic expenses brought on by the coronavirus.
Zoe covers Clemson for The Greenville News and Independent Mail. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @zoenicholson_