AP NEWS

Arkansas Tech issues credit for lost housing due to pandemic

March 23, 2020 GMT

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Students at Arkansas Tech University will receive a credit toward future university housing after the outbreak of the coronavirus forced student dorms to close.

The school’s board of trustees approved the pro-rated credits Sunday. Credits will be applied over the next 12 months, pro-rated based on the student’s check-out date, reported the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Seniors will receive pro-rated housing refunds.

Board documents presented to trustees estimated $1.2 million would be paid in housing refunds and credits to 1,505 students -- 139 of which are seniors who make up 6% of the spring housing population.

The board separately voted to approve a similar measure for campus meal plans. The university estimates $790,000 in meal plan refunds and credits to 1,564 students; some commuter students also have a campus meal plan.

Though housing closure is set to begin April 3, Arkansas Tech is allowing students to remain on campus under “special circumstances” such as “personal safety, access to internet, no other available housing, academic distress or other legitimate reasons.”

Bernadette Hinkle, Arkansas Tech’s vice president for administration and finance, said an estimated 640 students might remain on campus and those students will not receive reimbursements.

Jennifer Mosier, the parent of an Arkansas Tech junior said in an email that her daughter is a resident assistant in campus housing and “has been told she will get her remaining salary from her RA position through May.”

“I am happy with the decisions and think this is fair,” Mosier said of the reimbursements.

Board member Jim Smith said that given the rise in unemployment due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the university will have an appeal process available since they expect students might not be able to return to school for economic reasons.

Hinkle said an appeal committee would consider students’ “extenuating circumstances” should they not re-enroll in the fall, and possibly “would find favor with them and refund their amount.”

Like many other colleges and universities, Arkansas Tech has moved its classes to online. Their spring semester runs through May 5.