Millions returned in room and board refunds
Sofia Rositani – Reporter
The university is in the process of refunding students’ room and board and meal plan costs, a number Residence Life Director Robert Demezzo said is “in the millions,” after COVID-19 forced residential students to return home.
“We did it as precisely as possible because our students moved out before spring break,” said Demezzo. “So, the financial aid office who does most of the calculations determined for us exactly what point in the semester, taking into account spring break, what they should receive back.”
On March 24, Patrick Dilger, the director of Integrated Communications and Marketing, sent out an email to inform students about what will happen to their room and board money.
That money, which was set to be refunded beginning on March 31, was sent through direct deposit, or a check was sent to the student’s home after being processed through financial aid.
Considering students left a few days before spring break, the “halfway point” in the semester, DeMezzo said students should receive a little more than 50 percent of the money back.
Students who pay their bills with credit cards, he said, should have seen the refund within a couple of days and students who pay through check, would have theirs printed within the week as well.
Additionally, meal plans were refunded, which DeMezzo said were more complicated due to the fact that students on the unlimited meal plan received a precise percentage, but students on block meal plans only received the percent of what they used.
“If you didn’t use your meal plan at all for the spring semester if you are in an apartment, you would receive a 100 percent refund,” said DeMezzo.
Political science major Tatiana Hawkins, a freshman, is an out–of–state student who had a hard time moving out with the sudden announcement.
“I appreciate it,” said Hawkins, “but you can’t repay me for kicking me out with an under 24-hour notice, and fortunately my mom could pick me up but they had no plan for out of state students, or even international students.”
Hawkins also said she would have been happier if they put the money she was refunded toward her student loans.
Since she lives out-of-state, Hawkins said she does not believe that getting a refund makes up for losing out on this college experience.
“I miss all my friends and getting to see them constantly,” said Hawkins.
Sociology major Robert Spears, a freshman resident, said he was given a $3,000 refund, but thinks he should have received a “little more.”
“I don’t think it was really justified the way it should have been and they haven’t really come to light and talking about that really,” said Spears, “but it was very comforting to actually receive something back, because at first it was a bit of a panic and a big concern to me and a lot of other people on whether or not we would receive something.”
Like Hawkins, Spears does not think that the refund makes up for the experiences he could have had this semester.
“I definitely don’t think that it can replace any memories that were or will be made in the future,” Spears said.
Looking to next semester and the possibility the coronavirus extends into the fall, DeMezzo said the university has taken the step to extend the deposit due for housing to May 1.
As he said millions of dollars were returned to students, the money had to come out of the university budget; however, he said that returning the money was necessary.
“That’s our priority,” said DeMezzo, “to do the right thing for our residents here.”
Contributions by Jessica Guerrucci, Managing Editor.
Photo Credit: southernct.edu