On March 26, WMU’s Office of Marketing and Strategic Communication sent an email offering partial refunds for unused services. These included, housing, meal plans and parking permits.
The refunds for these are credits will be applied first to any outstanding charges, then to spring 2020 tuition, then to fees.
Sophomore David Hoskins, president of the Resident Housing Association, believes that students need to be refunded for the full amount, not just partial.
“I don’t care about fixed or variable rates,” Hoskins said. “I’m not getting refunded for something I paid for and can’t get to use. They don’t seem to be sympathetic about the students struggling right now to make ends meet.”
Leslie Barajas, a third year student, said she understands the university's methods, but will not be getting anything in return due to grants and scholarships.
“I do not know exactly what was done in the first place, knowing that giving people back $1000 or less is one thing.” Barajas said. “But, there’s nothing we know about the money that is being spent, for what and why.”
Sophomore Alex Lawrence believes the university made the right decision, but said their method of issuing partial refunds could have been better.
“I think the university is trying to do good but offering the credit, but students don’t need credit, they physically need that money to be able to support themselves during this crisis,” Lawrence said.
Despite the format the refund is given, Lawrence — who got laid off from his job as a result of COVID-19 — is grateful for the refund so he can put it toward his education but he knows there are others who are not as lucky.
“This $1000 could easily cover my bills for the entire summer,” Lawrence said. “I know students are in harder situations than me. I just want the university to take some responsibility to help their students during this time.”
On March 16, Michigan State University's Residential and Hospitality Services offered a similar housing credit, also giving students the option of a direct deposit in the amount of $1,120, less any outstanding balance with the university.
Junior WMU student Rudy Verbos believes her school is doing everything they can to make this time less chaotic. However, he said he believes a cash refund would be better for some students.
“I know many students who are struggling financially, and it is disappointing that WMU cannot give students a more liquid return,” Verbos said. “Despite not being in school, these students have very real expenses that a cash refund could help with. Many students may not be able to return to school if the economy fails to recover from this pandemic, and I am not sure a credit towards future tuition is the most helpful to them.”