UWO could pay $5 million in housing, food refunds


UW Oshkosh Flickr — Students moved out of their residence halls on March 23 after the campus was closed due to the coronavirus. Any remaining students from dorms are now housed in Gruenhagen Hall.

Billy Piotrowski

Refunds to students for housing and food contracts are predicted to cost UW Oshkosh about $5 million, according to Chancellor Andrew Leavitt.

Leavitt told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the refunds being given to students all across the UW System are “what the universities want and need to do,” but that the money lost will hit UWO hard.

“We have a budget of a little less than $100 million, so it’s about a 5% payback for the entire budget if you were to look at it that way,” Leavitt said to the Journal Sentinel. “It’s also essentially depleting all of our reserves for housing and food contracts. This is why we have reserves, is to do things like this.”

The UW System is estimating a total loss of around $78 million, but the exact impact that the refunds will have on individual university budgets is still being analyzed, which was confirmed in an email Thursday from Peggy Breister, interim executive director of UWO’s University Marketing and Communications.

“UWO is still evaluating the impact on the budget,” Breister said. “We do not have any information to share at this time.”

The refunds come at a time when UWO is already dealing with a “budget hole” due to a lack of enrollment, according to public comments from administrators at an open forum on Feb. 17.

To address the budget, the university is working to increase enrollment, offer early retirement to faculty, working to reduce budgets for its four colleges and requesting financial assistance from the UW System, according to comments at the forum.

Students wondering when they will get their refunds can check the most recent mass email sent to their student email accounts. The April 1 email details when students will be receiving their housing credit, dining credit and Titan Dollars refunds.

Housing credit is being processed during the first two weeks of April by Residence Life. Dining credit is being processed during the first three weeks of April and is taking the amount of Titan Dollars on a meal plan into account.

UW Oshkosh Flickr — Students moved out of their UW Oshkosh residence halls in late March after the campus was closed due to the coronavirus.

If the balance of Titan Dollars in an account is less than the amount provided with the meal plan, the difference will be deducted from the dining credit.

The remaining Titan Dollars on an account can be transferred to a UWO gift card; details on that process can be found in an email from Titan Central.

The April 1 email also details what will be done about special course fees.

“In cases where special course fees were for expenses not incurred for the semester, the fees are being removed from accounts,” the email said. “In cases where the University incurred costs, the fees will remain on accounts. A common example is fees that cover specialized software purchases for students. This will remain on the accounts.”

Students with financial aid will automatically receive refunds if a credit balance is created on their accounts. Students who wind up owing a balance will have until April 24 to pay the balance.

Students will receive emails if there is any activity on their accounts. The email encourages students to check TitanWeb and their emails daily so they don’t miss any future updates.