Harvard to Prorate Undergrad Room and Board Costing $18,000
(Bloomberg) -- Harvard College, where room and board for undergraduates costs almost $18,000 this academic year, plans to prorate such charges as of March 15.
The school informed students of the decision on a section of its website that addresses the impact of the coronavirus. Harvard has ordered students to move out of their housing by March 15. All courses will continue remotely.
As a growing list of colleges close dorms or move courses online, administrators are formulating plans on refunds. Middlebury said Wednesday it will prorate room and board for students who leave campus by March 15 and Amherst College will do the same for the time that students are away.
Smith College in Massachusetts said it’s determining a process for prorating room and board, while Yale, Cornell, and Grinnell colleges say they are looking into the issue.
Harvard, the richest U.S. university, hasn’t yet determined other refunds. More than 55% of undergraduate students there receive financial aid and don’t pay the full amount. For students on financial aid, the school said Wednesday will provide up to $200 to assist with shipping or storing items.
“The university is still working on the details for what will happen with any other student charges,” Harvard College, the university’s undergraduate school, said in a statement on its website.
Meanwhile, schools in the Ivy League have canceled spring athletics practice and competition through the end of the academic year. And the City University of New York and the State University of New York will move to “distance learning” on March 19. An adviser to Governor Andrew Cuomo said it’s unlikely graduation ceremonies will be held en masse.
For schools deciding on prorated credits, “the calculations that colleges have to do when determining refund policies are complex,” said Justin Draeger, president of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. “What some schools can afford to do will be very different from other schools.”
Colleges that don’t offer online classes and have shut down would need to return students’ federal loans and government grants for those who are low-income, Draeger said.
Schools like Smith are making arrangements for those who cannot go home, such as international students and those who live in communities where the virus is widespread.
Colleges are also trying to address issues particular to low-income students. Harvard directed students who cannot afford transportation home to contact the financial aid office, which is working with students to offer financial assistance for travel costs. Smith said it is also “working through the impacts of those relying on work-study.”
School shutdowns disproportionately hurt students who have precarious financial situations, said Anthony Jack, an assistant professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
“These closures are stress inducing beyond the worry about the pandemic coming to campus,” said Jack, author of “The Privileged Poor: How Elite Colleges Are Failing Disadvantaged Students.” “It’s the loss of security, the loss of stability in the place you have come to associate with meals, housing and access to resources.”
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