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U of M president promises students 'comprehensive' refund for unused costs

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

University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel is considering more robust refunds for students after backlash over unused room and board costs.

Gabel sent an email to the university community Wednesday stating she would propose further refunds for students after the school initially announced it would refund students living in campus housing just $1,200 in room and board costs if they had moved home during the COVID-19 crisis.

The dollar amount quickly garnered widespread criticism from students and officials.

A petition launched online pointed out room and board costs total around $5,000 per semester. With in-person classes cancelled on March 11, the petition asked for a refund of half of the cost, or $2,500.

“This discrepancy is unjust seeing as some students have lived on campus for only 6 weeks of the semester,” the petition reads.

Minnesota Rep. Patrick Garofolo, R-Farmington, also announced earlier this week that he would draft legislation requiring state colleges and universities to refund students 90 percent of unused room and board costs.

Gabel said her “comprehensive” proposal would be taken up by the university’s Board of Regents on Friday. Refunds would include room and board and other expenses and fees, according to the email.

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"Since conditions for all Minnesotans changed late last week as a result of the governor’s 'Stay at Home' order, my team has been working around the clock on a comprehensive student fee refund proposal that encompasses all students, at all levels, on all five of our campuses," Gabel said in the email.

According to the Minnesota Daily, the initial decision was made with the help of "internal and external experts and peer institutions,” per an email from Gable.

The university’s Board of Regents will convene Friday at 10 a.m.

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