Pending vote, University could lose over $27 million in refunds to students

The Board of Regents will vote on a student refund plan that includes 100% refunds for housing, meal plan and parking fees.

University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel addresses the Minnesota Senate on the University's plans to contend with COVID-19, otherwise known as the Coronavirus, at the State Capitol on Tuesday, March 10.

Parker Johnson

University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel addresses the Minnesota Senate on the University's plans to contend with COVID-19, otherwise known as the Coronavirus, at the State Capitol on Tuesday, March 10.

Hana Ikramuddin and Abbey Machtig

The University of Minnesota could lose more than $27 million in additional refunds due to the COVID-19 pandemic, pending a vote at a Board of Regents meeting Friday. 

President Joan Gabel has proposed to return 100% of student fees related to University housing and dining beginning March 28 and extending until the end of the semester, according to docket materials. 

The proposal also includes the return of 50% of student services fees, money usually allocated for funding student groups throughout the year. Recreation and wellness and transportation and safety fees would also be returned to students. 

The University will not know the full amount of revenue loss until all refunds are processed, the docket materials say. The refund amounts do not include study abroad trips cut short by COVID-19 disruptions. 

This update comes after the March 22 announcement that students across the Duluth, Crookston, Morris and Rochester campuses would receive a $1,000 credit with students on the Twin Cities campus receiving a $1,200 credit for their housing and dining accommodations. 

The estimated return for housing would cost the University system more than $22 million — compared to a loss of about $12.5 million if the University had proceeded with its original plan to return a flat fee. The refund does not apply to students who remain on campus or in University housing. 

All parking fees would also be returned to students. 

On March 28, Gov. Tim Walz’s statewide stay-at-home order went into effect, allowing only essential workers and students already living in University housing to remain on campus. Following this order, Gabel began to consider a “comprehensive student fee refund,” the docket materials say.