Undergraduate Refunds and CARES Act
From the Office of the President, May 7, 2020
Dear Stephens Students,
As our spring semester draws to a close, I want to thank and congratulate each and every one of you for your resilience, patience and willingness to do whatever has been required to continue your education. Your faculty speak with such pride, respect and even awe about your self-discipline, energy and determination to stay connected — to them, to the College and to each other.
When you departed campus in mid-March, I assured you that the College would do everything possible to support and encourage you during these difficult times. We didn’t anticipate then the extent of our nation’s losses — in human life, in economic stability, and in personal autonomy. But we remain the community we have always been — working through this together. And we have been working hard to continue to educate and serve you, and to prioritize your well-being and security over all other considerations.
That’s why I’m so glad to inform you that we’re going to be providing you some financial assistance in the coming weeks. Please read this letter carefully because it asks you to respond in ways that will make it possible for us to get these resources to you as quickly as possible.
- Room and Board refunds. The College will be providing refunds prorated to reflect the weeks during which you should have had access to room and board but were unable to do so because of COVID-19.
I want to explain our decision on refunds. Like many other colleges and universities, Stephens has a policy in place — and has for many years — that specifically establishes that the College is not legally obligated to refund fees when the disruption of service is due to something other than College negligence (see page 23 in this year’s catalog). Many institutions with similar policies have chosen not to provide refunds to their students. Stephens is providing those refunds because we believe it is the right thing to do.
Refunds will be credited to student accounts, so those with outstanding balances will see those balances reduced by the amount of the refund. Students without balances will receive the full amount.
Students will have the option of applying the refund directly as a credit to their summer or fall 2020 charges, or receiving it as a check in the mail. We expect these refunds to be applied or sent out within two weeks of your response to the survey (see below for instructions and the link).
- Direct payments to students. Stephens College is the recipient of federal funds through the CARES Act. These funds are intended to provide support to students who suffered disruption on campus during the COVID-19 pandemic. Each institution is allowed to determine how best to make these resources available to students.
Stephens will distribute about $167,000 in direct grants to all eligible students; that includes all undergraduate students who attended classes on campus (so excluding our Health Information Administration students), as well as graduate students in our Masters of Education/Counseling and Masters of Physician Assistant programs. We expect to get those checks out before May 15.
- Student Emergency Relief Fund. Stephens will distribute the remaining $167,000 in CARES Act funds through a Student Emergency Relief Fund that will respond to financial challenges directly resulting from COVID-19. Eligible students will be able to apply for these funds beginning later this summer; we expect the Fund will continue to be available to provide support to students well into the fall semester. More details on the Fund and the application process will be available by July 1.
So, what do you need to do?
FIRST, you need to carefully read the FAQ below; it explains the details and responds to the questions we think some of you may have. If you still need more information after you’ve read it, please contact me at [email protected]. (Please do note that we can’t be more specific about timing; we’re processing the room and board refunds as quickly as possible, and the CARES Act funding depends upon when the federal government makes it available to us.)
SECOND, you need to provide us your current contact information and mailing address (so we’re sending checks to the right places!), and tell us how you want to receive your room and board refund.
We continue to pursue all possible opportunities to bring even greater resources and relief to you as we work to support and assist you through this crisis. We want you back on campus as soon as possible — as a continuing student, or for your Commencement!
We miss you, every day — though I have continued to be amazed by your work online. Stay well, be strong, and be in touch.
Dr. Dianne Lynch, President
Room and Board Refund and CARES Act FAQs
Room and Board Refunds
- Who is eligible for a room and board adjustment?
All students who were living in the residence halls and/or had a meal plan for the Spring 2020 semester at the time of the campus closure due to COVID-19 are eligible for a refund.
- How much will the adjustment(s) be?
The amount of the refund will depend upon each student’s housing and meal plan charges. The Accounting Office has calculated refunds for each student; please check your statement on the Student Self-Service portal.
- Will unused flex dollars for the Spring 2020 term be included in the adjustment?
- What is the period of the room and board adjustments?
Charges associated with the six weeks between March 30 (the day we would have returned from Spring Break) and May 8 (the final day of the semester) will be prorated and adjusted. That’s the time period during which students would have had access to room and board services if it were not for COVID-19.
- What if I still have a balance on my student account?
The room and/or board adjustment will be processed through student accounts. It will be a credit against any room and board charges still remaining for the Spring 2020 term; any surplus once all outstanding balances have been paid will be refunded. For students without outstanding balances, the total refund will be provided — either as a credit for the Summer or Fall 2020 term, or as a check.
- How do I tell the College how I want my refund (as applicable) to be processed (as a credit against Fall 2020 charges or as a check)?
Students are asked to provide the College with current contact information and to indicate their preference on refund distribution.
- Will the College reimburse me for parking?
No. The College charges $78 per year for parking, which means six weeks of parking costs less than $9.75. Rather than processing all of those refund checks, the College has made the decision to delay the planned increase in its parking fees for 2020-2021.
CARES Act Grants
- Who will receive a CARES Act grant?
All eligible students whose education was disrupted on the Stephens College campus because of COVID-19 may receive a CARES Act grant. To be eligible, students must meet several federal requirements that are established under Title IV of the Higher Education Act.
A student’s eligibility will be determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students who have already completed the FAFSA need not do it again. For students who have not yet completed a FAFSA, apply now.
- Does that include graduate students?
Yes, it includes graduate students who study on the campus.
- What do I need to do to apply?
You don’t need to apply for this cash grant, which all eligible students will receive. You do need to provide your current mailing address and contact information.
The College will establish a Student Emergency Relief Fund later this summer that will be available through the fall to provide support to students with challenges directly related to COVID-19. Students will need to apply for these funds. See FAQ #6 below.
- How can I use my grant payment?
The College will send you a check, and you are free to spend it on any expense associated with the disruption to your education caused by COVID-19.
- When will I receive my grant payment?
The College will file its acceptance of the grant funding and it may take several weeks to receive it. Once it’s been transferred, the College will move as quickly as possible to distribute the funds — but again, students who have not updated their contact information will not receive their checks until they do so (we are trying to avoid lengthy delays caused by incorrect summer addresses and contact information).
Update your contact information >
- How do I apply for additional Student Emergency Relief Fund resources?
The College is still developing the process by which students will be able to access additional Emergency Relief Fund resources. Under the CARES Act, the College has a full year to disburse those funds to students, so it will establish some policies to ensure that the greatest number of students has access to this important support. Students will be asked to submit a simple application describing their needs (associated with COVID-19) and a committee of three faculty and staff will be responsible for making the grants. More details will be available in the coming weeks.
- What should I do if I have more questions?
Send them to [email protected], and I will be in touch!