In reversal, University of Minnesota will refund more student housing costs

An informational flyer is tacked to a red and yellow pole.
A flyer with information about mitigating the spread of COVID-19 is tacked to a pole at the University of Minnesota campus on March 19.
Chris Juhn for MPR News

University of Minnesota regents on Friday voted to provide larger housing refunds to students on all system campuses after the coronavirus pandemic forced the campuses to close.

The move, which comes after students complained the U wasn't offering fair refunds, will cost the school about $27.8 million.

The previous plan gave Twin Cities campus students a flat $1,200 refund, with students on other campuses getting $1,000. However, Twin Cities campus students typically pay more than $5,000 for room and board each semester.

Under the new plan, the University of Minnesota will pay students all of their unused housing, dining and parking fees from March 28 — the date Minnesota's stay-at-home order began — through the end of the semester. Half of students' service fees for the semester will be returned, too.

The amount each student will receive varies. But for Twin Cities campus students, it'll roughly double the earlier $1,200 refund, regents said.

U of M President Joan Gabel said it's too early to tell what the refunds and COVID-19 in general will mean for the school's budget.

When a reporter asked her if administrative cost cuts would be considered to address budget issues, Gabel said, "every cost is on the table."

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