Anderson University President Evans P. Whitaker today issued the following statement regarding the University’s plan to provide financial relief for residential students impacted by the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic:
“The COVID-19 crisis negatively impacts practically every person and every organization. Anderson University and our students are no exception. This is the first time in our recent history that we have dealt with anything so disruptive and costly.
“Students may have incurred expenses as a result of moving off campus and completing classes online. Likewise, the University has and will continue to lose significant revenue from spring and summer operations it had expected in order to meet our budgetary obligations. While AU is taking every opportunity to reduce costs, there are certain costs associated with on-campus living that are necessary regardless of whether we are providing on-campus learning or online learning. In planning to issue partial remittances for room and board, please understand that we must take these costs into consideration.
“We communicate this information now because, until this week, it has been impossible to estimate the full impact of the COVID-19 situation on the University and our students. We have and will continue to make informed and well thought-out decisions as we work through this ever-changing crisis.
“As late as last week, we were given advice by our advisors in Columbia, S.C. and Washington, D.C., to wait to make any final decisions until we receive additional guidance from the federal government, which is expected this week. While some universities made early announcements regarding student room and board refunds, others have waited for clear information and guidance from the United States Department of Education, along with state authorities. We understand that waiting for and following clear federal and state guidance is the more prudent approach for both AU and its students.
“Anderson administrators, with the counsel of the Board of Trust, have been deliberate and thorough—to the best of our ability—to estimate the full impact of COVID-19 on students and University operations through the summer. Upon receiving clear guidance we expect this week, we will rapidly work to solidify details of our plan, with the confidence that we can deliver on our commitment for credits to our students and families as soon as possible.
“The result will be a formula for pro-rated monetary remittances to address as many of the needs as possible for our residential students and families—those that participated in campus housing and campus dining plans this semester. The assistance will come in the form of a payment or credit adjustment which we anticipate we will apply to eligible student accounts no later than Friday, May 15, 2020. (Our goal is to credit all eligible accounts prior to May 15, if at all possible.) Those eligible will be given several options for how you wish to receive your remittance.
“Please note that even though our housing contracts contain specific language that releases the University from any refund responsibility in this situation, we believe that in this unprecedented crisis, we should set aside the refund release provision for the benefit and relief of our students and families. This is the right thing to do.
“Between now and May 14, Anderson Central and our Business Office will review each student’s individual account to determine each student’s eligibility for pro-rated room and board credit, less proportional institutional financial aid and other relevant factors. Credit adjustments/remittances will be specific to each student. Because institutional financial aid varies from student to student, no one student’s remittance will necessarily be the same as another student’s remittance.
“We appreciate the grace, patience and understanding our students and parents have shown during this unprecedented public health crisis. Part of the reason students choose to attend Anderson is the deliberate, responsible and thoughtful way Anderson leaders carefully manage the University’s operations and guide its future. In everything we seek God’s guidance, through prayer and our reliance on the principles of Christ, to make wise decisions. We hope and pray this assistance is a source of encouragement to you and your family in this challenging moment.
“Anderson University is blessed to have the best students in the world. Our faculty and staff appreciate the love and support they and their families extend to each other and to the campus community. We remain in joyful expectation of that future day when we can all gather together on campus once again.”
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