As the Kenyon community continues to adjust to the new normal of the COVID-19 pandemic, one major issue the College has recently addressed is potential refunds or grants for the seven weeks of unused room and board fees. According to Vice President for Finance Todd Burson, students will have three options for how to receive this refund or grant. For returning students—with certain exceptions—the reimbursement amount can either be carried over into the fall 2020 semester, or families can receive a refund check mailed to the billing address made out in the student’s name. As for seniors, they will receive the refund as a part of their enrollment deposit refund check in midsummer, also made out in the student’s name.
On Monday, March 30, Burson sent an email to students and guardians listing the three options and asking the tuition handler to complete a form by April 6 indicating their choice. If the form is not completed, the College will assume that non-seniors will have their refund used for next fall’s tuition, and that seniors will have the refund sent with their deposit refund check in midsummer. The refund credit should appear on the next billing statement, which will be released on April 15.
Families will also have the option to donate their tuition refund to the College. Parents wishing to do so should contact Director of Parent Giving Anne Ellsworth ’04 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
While no official dollar amount has been determined yet, many of the reimbursements will be handled on a case-by-case basis due to extenuating factors that would change the refund amount. Some of these factors include whether the student was studying abroad and the details of their program (i.e., how long the student had remaining in the program) and whether or not the student was on need-based financial aid that covered some portion of room and board.
While those who were on need-based financial aid that covered a portion or the entirety of room and board will not be eligible to receive a refund, the College will be awarding grants towards living expenses for those students while the school is closed.
“If your financial aid covers the room and board expense, then we don’t call it a refund because it’s not really the same as a refund—because it’s not that you’re refunding money that way,” President Sean Decatur told the Collegian. “But there is a grant of funds that recognizes that [for] students who have their room and board covered, it’s covered because they have a financial need that covers housing and food expenses. So the grant is intended to help support the housing and food expenses that one may have even though they’re not here.”
Despite implementing these many new measures relating to COVID-19, including tuition reimbursement and taking care of part-time and student-employees, Decatur isn’t worried about long-term stability for the College.
“We actually feel like we’ve had a good financial plan to weather through the semester,” Decatur said. “Our general approach has been that we want to support people as much as possible and that means probably having less stuff … I think the refunds were the right thing to do, I think the grants for students who don’t get refunds is the right thing to do; continuing student employment, I think, is just the right thing to do.”