Skip to main content

Coronavirus: U of M under pressure for meagre room and board refunds

There have been calls to protect students from payments during the pandemic.

The University of Minnesota is being asked to refund more of the cost of room and board to students who have moved off campus during the COVID-19 crisis.

A petition launched this week says that students pay more than $5,000 per semester for housing and meal plans, but are receiving only a partial refund of $1,200 for unused housing and food, after the university canceled in-person classes on Mar. 11 due to the pandemic.

The petition is calling for at least $2,500 be refunded to students given that they were told to stay home halfway through the spring semester, and have since encouraged students not to return after spring break.

Leensa Ahmed, who started the petition, says that some students have had to take out loans to pay for their costs.

The students are being backed in their efforts by among others Rep. Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington), who announced this week he is authoring legislation requiring Minnesota colleges and universities to offer bigger refunds for room and board costs at a time where most are being asked to stay at home.

"It is only fair that students receive refunds for room and board services that they are not receiving. Most of these students have already left campus because of the cancellation of in-person classes at Minnesota colleges and universities,” he said.

"If students aren’t living on campus, there’s no reason why they should be paying anywhere close to full price for room and board for the remainder of the semester. I look forward to working with legislators and university administrators across Minnesota to solve this issue and ensure that students get their money back."

Sign up for our BREAKING NEWS newsletters

Under Rep. Garofalo's plan, universities and colleges would be required to refund 90 percent of a student's unused room and board expenses.

The Minnesota Daily reports that University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel said the $1,200 figure was based on guidance from "internal and external experts and peer institutions."

She also said the U has to keep funding the halls and dining facilities as some students have elected to stay on campus, and the U needs to continue paying for custodians, maintenance staff, cooks and student workers to keep them functional.

The Star Tribune reports that students at MSU-Mankato will receive half their room and board costs if they've moved out by Apr. 5, while the University of St. Thomas is pro-rating refunds from Mar. 16, when it switched to online classes, with Minnesota State colleges doing the same.

Next Up

Karl-Anthony Towns

X-rays negative after Karl-Anthony Towns takes scary fall

Towns crashed hard to the ground late in the game Wednesday night.

Minneapolis police

2 more homicides push Minneapolis closer to record set in 1995

The deadly shootings happened on the city's North Side Wednesday night.

Karl-Anthony Towns

KAT sets a franchise record, leaves early in loss to Wizards

Towns fell on his back in the final minutes of a loss in Washington.

Flickr - police lights squad siren - Edward Kimmel

Man shot by police in Forest Lake dies from injuries

It was one of two police shootings in the Twin Cities on the same day, both of which proved fatal.

Dylan Bundy

Report: Twins agree to deal with Dylan Bundy

The Twins signed the right-hander with a lockout imminent.

Flickr - face masks covid pole - Ivan Radic

'Everyone should really be masking up' in public, Malcolm says

The health commissioner said residents have gotten "a little bit lax" with some protective measures.

Byron Buxton

Byron Buxton believes he's the best player in baseball

"Nobody [does] the things that I do. I know that."

unsplash medical marijuana

Edibles coming to Minnesota's medical marijuana program

MDH also announced it will not add anxiety as qualifying condition.

plow, snowplow, snow

Plowable snow possible this weekend in Minnesota

Up to half a foot of snow could fall within the heaviest band.

Best Buy - jjbers, Flickr

Police reveal new details about 'coordinated' Best Buy thefts

A large group stole thousands of dollars in merchandise from three Twin Cities Best Buy stores.

Seven Points exterior - 2

New tenant revealed for former Libertine spot in Uptown

The space will combine playful art offerings with a restaurant.


University of minnesota sign

U of M president promises students 'comprehensive' refunds

It comes after the offer of a $1,200 refund for room and board costs drew criticism.

University of minnesota sign

Big crowds at U of M 'Superblock' spark COVID-19 concerns

The U says it's reviewing video of the incident, but students say the university isn't doing enough to protect students.

University of Minnesota

U of M reveals plan for return to campus, including 10-day student quarantine

President Joan Gabel revealed plans for the Twin Cities, Rochester and Duluth campuses.

Michael Osterholm

U of M's Osterholm named to President-elect Biden's COVID-19 advisory board

The board has prominent doctors and scientists tasked at guiding Biden's transition to president and planning for the federal response to the virus.

novel coronavirus, covid-19, sars-cov-2

U of M researchers detail 3 ways the coronavirus pandemic could evolve

The research says this pandemic could mimic past influenza pandemics.

University of Minnesota

U of M will continue online classes into the summer

All instruction was initially moved online March 11 to help slow the spread of COVID-19.