Some universities are taking steps to keep their budgets intact in the event of a fall shutdown. And they do it at the expense of their students.
Recent reports indicate that several universities have policies in place that they will not reimburse accommodation if their campuses are forced to close due to Covid-19. This includes Washington State University, University of West Carolina, and the University of South Florida.
This spring, when the coronavirus pandemic hit the United States, college campuses closed. Students were forced to move out of college dorms and find new housing options. Many students have requested pro-rated housing reimbursements based on time remaining in the semester.
Fortunately for students and institutions, Congress passed the CARES Law which provided about $ 14 billion to higher education. Half of the money was to go to students in the form of emergency aid that could cover expenses like housing.
The other half went to institutions to help cover expenses related to the coronavirus. For schools that depend on income from housing, the CARES law has made it possible to compensate for a massive loss of income.
Now, many are predicting a second wave of coronavirus and a second college shutdown to follow. These colleges are trying again to protect themselves from this loss of income.
But at what cost ?
If colleges close again, students will be forced off campus and will have to find new accommodation. It is less difficult for the stereotypical student, who can rely on his parents, but for a large number of students it will not be easy.
But even for those who can rely on their parents for shelter, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re wealthy. Some have to help their parents financially when they are at home.
Others go into debt to pay for these dormitories. Living expenses are more than half the cost of university. Students depend on both accommodation and food services. Without reimbursement for accommodation and meals plans, many students would have taken on debt to make sure they were fed and protected.
Recently, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) proposed a bill this would have provided an additional $ 132 billion for higher education. Meanwhile, Congress is debating a second coronavirus relief package. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) said he was ready to support a bill with more money for education.