Dear Students and Families,
We are writing today to announce that Ursinus will be adjusting room and board charges for the spring semester. Since we first decided to move to remote instruction on March 17, we heard from many of you about the impact of this unexpected change. We recognize this is an important issue, and we worked hard to respectfully address the disruption our students have unfairly experienced this semester.
We know many of you had questions about this process. While we investigated several options, we made sure to follow the new guidance put forth by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, or NASFAA. This took time, as the implications of the pandemic continue to evolve and the regulations concerning aid packages changed as recently as last week. We now have a clearer understanding of the implications of COVID-19 and that our interpretations of NASFAA’s guidances are correct.
A key question had been whether financial aid packages would have to be adjusted if changes to room and board charges were put into place. Even though other institutions have made those adjustments, Ursinus will not reduce or alter in any way the amount of your 2019-2020 financial aid packages. This situation has created enormous uncertainty and we see no reason to make our educational experience less accessible nor place any unnecessary financial burden on our students.
With that context, here are the options. Ursinus will completely adjust charges related to boarding (such as dining and meals) for the time students were away from campus. Because many of the costs related to rooms are fixed on a semester basis—energy, maintenance and cleaning, for example—we will be adjusting room-related charges on a partial basis. For the sake of clarity, I will focus first on our graduating seniors before outlining the options available to returning students.
Total Room & Board Adjustment: $2,200
This applies to graduating seniors who have not resided on campus since Monday, March 23—the Monday following the Spring Break “extension.” It effectively covers the seven weeks seniors would have resided on campus in addition tothe “Senior Week” experience just prior to Commencement exercises, for a total of eight weeks. This credit adjustment will be applied to the student account for the spring 2020 term and any credit amount remaining will be returned to the student during the month of June. No further action is required of our students.
Returning Students Currently Paid in Full
Total Room & Board Adjustment: $2,100 Credit (Fall) OR $1,600 Adjustment (Spring)
Many families have contacted us requesting two different timelines for possible adjustments. We understand that families have a variety of reasons for this request. It is our full intention to honor those individual circumstances as much as possible by offering two separate accommodations to current first-years, sophomores and juniors.
- Option #1 is a $2,100 credit that reflects the seven weeks the student would have resided on campus after Monday, March 23. This will be applied towards the upcoming 2020-2021 academic charges.
- Option #2 is a $1,600 adjustment that can be refunded in the form of a check later this semester.
All returning students whose accounts are paid in full—those who do not currently owe a balance—are asked to consider both options. A survey will be sent the week of Monday, April 13, by the office of student financial services that outlines these options and asks students for their preference.
Returning Students With an Outstanding Account Balance
Total Room & Board Adjustment: $1,600 (Spring)
For those returning students who currently owe a balance to the college for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic calendar year, Ursinus will apply $1,600 towards the outstanding balance, then refund any remaining credit balance to the student in the form of a check in the coming weeks. No further action is required by the student.
Every current student will receive a message providing additional information next week, even for those students for whom no further action is required. We understand there are likely to be many questions about these options and we hope to be as transparent and responsive as we can be to make sure those questions are answered to the very best of our ability. You should feel welcome to contact email@example.com at that time, but please understand the staff will respond to your email as quickly as they are able given the high amount of inquiries they expect to receive. Also visit our covid-19 webpage for the latest information and resources that are available to our students.
On a related note, some families have generously indicated an interest in waiving this credit adjustment in order to support the college at this challenging time—and to help others who may be in need. We would be most grateful for such support. If you would like your credit to be donated to the Bear2Bear Student Emergency Fund, the college’s Annual Fund or elsewhere, further information will be provided in next week’s communication.
While the last few weeks have been unprecedented, we hope this decision provides a clear and forthright answer to questions about room and board. We acknowledge the difficult circumstances this event has created and are doing our very best to accommodate and support our students and their families while maintaining our long-term promise to future generations of Ursinus students.