On Wednesday evening, JMU announced details on refunds issued for students via email. This announcement came as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, which caused the university to move classes online and close on-campus housing.
“We’re very thankful for the patience of the community as we figured out the many logistics involved,” interim JMU spokeswoman Caitlyn Read said. “We’ve done our best to develop an equitable refund model that gets money back to families while making sure the university can meet our financial obligations.”
On-campus students will receive room refunds of 72.5% of half the semester’s total cost. A standard residence hall costs $2,714 per semester, and half of that total is $1,357. Most students will receive a credit of $984, which accounts for fixed costs of 27.5% for “debt obligations and personnel costs,” according to an email sent to students and parents. Students will be automatically issued their refunds.
Additionally, on-campus students will receive meal plan refunds equivalent to 75% of half a semester’s cost of their meal plan’s punch value. For example, a student with the 19-Plus meal plan, which includes 19 meal punches per week and $175 Dining Dollars, would receive $967; the 14-Plus plan’s refund amount is around $848; and the 11-Plus plan will yield about $809. These meal plan credits are discounted by 25% for fixed costs.
Returning students with unused Dining Dollars and Flex balances will see those carry over to the 2020-21 academic year. Those Dining Dollars will expire at the end of the 2021 spring semester. Meanwhile, graduating seniors will receive a full refund for unspent Dining Dollars, and that transaction will process automatically with no action required. Students with a Block 50 meal plan will receive refunds based on actual meals used and must request a refund by April 8.
Students may email JMU Card Services to receive a full refund at any time. Graduating seniors may also receive a refund on Dining Dollars Gold and Flex.
“Basically, it was pretty simple,” Charlie King, senior vice president for administration and finance, said. “We were eight weeks into the semester with eight weeks to go. So, we took and figured what was 50% of the total costs of that semester. We built a number of new buildings on campus over the past decade, and we borrowed money to build those … We pay that back over 20 years, just like people do on home mortgages.”
Furthermore, parking registration fees will be administered without any action by students. Full-time commuter or resident passes will yield a $38 credit; part-time and evening only passes will get a $19 refund; and remote lot only passes will return $13.
JMU Parking Services’ refund policy issues credit based on the remaining value of the permits, Read said in an email, which in this case is the months of March and April, minus the month they are returned, which is March. Read added that Parking Services typically charges a $10 refund fee, which has been waived for over 10,000 students receiving refunds.
There will be no refunds issued for tuition and fees, as professors have moved classes online. Outstanding balances will be deducted from students’ refunds prior to distribution.
“It took us about three weeks to look at all the numbers and figure out the logic and cover our costs and, at the same time, be as fair as we can be with the students,” King said. “For the second half of the year, we owed $12 million alone on housing and foodservice. In addition to the debt service we owed, we had payroll for housing operations and we were required to pay some fixed costs to our foodservice contractor, Aramark.”
Refunds will automatically be transferred to bank accounts, provided they’re set up through Bank Mobile, JMU’s bank vendor. Students can check their banking information through MyMadison’s Student Center under the “My Refunds” link.
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