WSU housing addendum raises questions about COVID-19 refunds

Students living inCoronavirus tipsheet on-campus housing will not get refunds if asked to leave early. 

Not only did their tuition increase by the maximum allowed, they will get to live in the dorms for two months but have to pay for nine months. Brilliant. 

Tell me again why anyone would take that deal? Or perhaps that’s WSU’s way of having fewer students in their classes. 

Changes to Washington State University housing agreements are raising concerns — particularly an addendum stating student residents will not be refunded if they’re asked to vacate early in the semester because of COVID-19.

According to an email sent to WSU students Tuesday, those who wish to live on campus for the semester must submit a signed addendum saying they cannot cancel housing and dining contracts because of changes in university operations resulting from COVID-19. The wording of the agreement states this remains true if students are required to vacate early and are not provided with alternative housing.

WSU spokesman Phil Weiler said he is sympathetic that the addendum could put parents and students in a difficult position but it is necessary for the university to be able to continue to provide services. He said WSU did issue refunds when classes were moved online in the middle of the spring 2020 semester, which sapped about $11 million from auxiliary reserves and the department stands to lose out on millions more in the coming semester.

“We will probably be losing somewhere in the neighborhood of about $20 million in revenues from our housing services because we’re having to reduce the number of students we’re going to have on campus,” Weiler said. “We normally have about 6,200 students and we’re going to be somewhere below 4,000 — there really isn’t any place to give.”

Weiler said student housing falls under auxiliary services, which means it cannot be supported through taxpayer revenues. This means expenses like maintenance and upkeep and any refunds are financed with money gathered through student housing and related fees.

“The cost of housing is what it costs us to provide that housing,” Weiler said.

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