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University of Minnesota students ask for new backdate on refund plan

Student association calls on regents to re-vote at their next meeting, asking for roughly two more weeks of refunds.

Kayla Nelson of Duluth, a University of Minnesota Duluth student and resident adviser, packs her car on March 18 after UMD asked students who could to move out of on-campus housing. “It’s extremely bittersweet,” she said of moving out. “RAs were planning events for after spring break and now everything is out the window. It’s weird not having any closure.” (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)

Students sent home by the University of Minnesota called Sunday for a re-vote by leadership, asking that prorated refunds for housing and dining fees date back roughly two weeks further than approved.

"Our ask is that refunds be prorated differently for each system campus depending on the last day of their spring break," Katy Briggs told the News Tribune. "Each day that students pay for services they aren't receiving impacts their bottom line and financial well-being."

Briggs is the spokesperson for the Minnesota Student Association, which balked at the March 28 date approved in President Joan Gabel's system-wide refund plan last week by the University of Minnesota Board of Regents.

Most universities and schools systems throughout the country have closed their campuses due to the threat presented by the spread of COVID-19.

In a position statement sent to regents, the student association requested they amend the date and re-vote at their April 7 meeting. The regents have not yet publicly responded to the student association's proposal.


In a virtual meeting last week, the board of regents approved Gabel's revised system-wide proposal for refunding students' housing and dining. The proposal will refund students 100% of their housing and unused dining fees, prorated from March 28 through the end of the semester in early May.

"(W)e strongly oppose ... the timing of proration being arbitrary, recognizing that every day counts for the financial well-being of students," the student association's position statement said, encouraging regents to "do better by the students of the university."

The student association used a timeline of events to show that impacts of the spread of coronavirus began to affect students on March 11, when it said Gabel first encouraged students not to return to campus from spring break.

The currently approved refund plan will require 11,000 different calculations due to a wide-ranging variation in student services across campuses, Gabel said last week, making it difficult to ballpark the average dollar amount students will be refunded.

In total, the currently approved refunds will leave the University of Minnesota system with a revenue loss of $27,824,000, which includes $4,432,000 at the University of Minnesota Duluth.

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