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Students say University of Minnesota shortchanged refunds

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Students, regents and some state lawmakers are criticizing the University of Minnesota for shortchanging students with a refund of only $1,200 for room and board after having to move off campus because of the coronavirus pandemic.

A semester roughly costs a student more than $5,000 for a combination of student housing and meal plans. The $1,200 covers a little more than just a fifth of those costs.

In the past two weeks, University of Minnesota students have circulated petitions asking for a “fair refund” for unused housing, dining and campus services, the Star Tribune reported. A separate petition, with more than 3,100 signatures, is calling for a partial tuition refund to reflect the change from an in-person college education to online courses.

University President Joan Gabel said the refund amount of $1,200 was determined by guidance from internal and external experts and peer institutions.

“System senior leaders determined that a credit of $1,200 to student accounts is a reasonable credit for the remainder of each student’s residence hall and meal plan contract, or apartment contract,” Gabel wrote in an update to students.

Joseph Roberto, a freshman at the university, said he moved out of his dorm on March 11, just 7.5 weeks into the semester.

“We shouldn’t be ones splitting the bill of this misfortune,” he said.

University Regent Darrin Rosha said the Board of Regents, which approves tuition rates, was not consulted about the refunds.

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