Washington State University is now offering refunds to students who will not live in their residence halls the rest of the semester.
The university issued a notice to students Wednesday detailing what options are available for them if they were living in a WSU-owned residence hall before the university moved to online courses in response to COVID-19.
Students who are now living away from Pullman can terminate their residence hall contract. If they do, they can be given a prorated refund that will be calculated as of March 13. Refunds will be issued before the end of the spring semester.
The other option is to receive a credit that will be applied to the student’s account for the 2020-21 school year.
Students who terminate contracts will not be charged a termination fee. Termination fees will also be waived for those living in WSU-owned apartments.
According to the notice, the same options apply to the students’ dining plan. Students can choose to be refunded or credited for the costs of their resident dining accounts.
WSU asks students to make a decision by April 10. In the meantime, the students can leave their belongings in the residence halls.
WSU spokesman Phil Weiler told the Daily News that residence halls and apartments are being kept open for students who cannot leave Pullman. This might include international students and students who may be homeless and rely on WSU facilities for food and housing.
The vast majority of WSU students, he said, will not return to live on campus. WSU has urged them not to return to Pullman if they do not need to be there.
Because of this, WSU is allowing them to end their contracts without penalty, he said.
Weiler said the university formed a committee that will determine if the university should reimburse students for other fees they pay. These include fees to pay for facilities such as the university’s recreation centers.
He said the committee is looking at factors such as how to address fees that were self-imposed by the students, including recreation facility fees, and how reimbursements may affect the university financially.
“The goal is to provide students as much financial relief as we can, but do that in a way that’s fiscally responsible for the institution,” Weiler said.
Members of the university also are working to help students financially by urging people to donate to the WSU Student Emergency Fund. The fund provides microgrants to students who are facing financial difficulties.
Weiler said the fund was set up years ago to help students who were struggling to complete their education because of financial problems, such as inability to pay rent or unexpected expenses.
He said the fund is even more important now because of how COVID-19 has disrupted the economy and caused many to lose their jobs.
WSU President Kirk Schulz announced on Twitter that he and his wife, Noel, donated $2,500 to the WSU Student Emergency Fund. WSU Athletic Director Pat Chun announced Twitter that he and men’s basketball coach Kyle Smith donated to the fund, as well.
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