UCO Students Not Expected to Receive Refunds Following Online Transition
The University of Central Oklahoma is not planning to refund students for fees or permits following its closure and move to online classes as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
UCO is using the money to pay off construction debt, which it is still required to pay regardless, and fund the university services still available to students.
Three main fees were called into question by students wanting refunds: university fees, transportation and parking permits and graduation fees.
“At this time, the university is not issuing any refunds for fees or permits,” said Brittany Platt, communications and administrative coordinator for Transportation and Parking Services.
However, the options are still being discussed and when a decision is reached, the campus community will be notified.
“As of March 2020, TPS has issued approximately 10,400 parking permits,” Platt said.
According to Platt, of the 10,400 permits, 8,466 are commuter permits, 1,246 are housing, 622 are remote/evening and 29 are carpool. This does not account for disability and motorcycle permits, which are mixed with faculty and staff.
With most permits belonging to off-campus students, some are beginning to question the parking services.
“I personally believe we should get a parking refund since no one can go on campus,” said junior Katherine Stough.
Stough, an off-campus student, said if permits are not refunded, she would be frustrated because most students only have part-time jobs and parking passes are expensive.
Another UCO student, Karlee Ogden, lives off-campus as well, but received her parking permit for free due to working on campus as a tour guide.
“If I had to pay for parking, I would be very adamant on trying to get a refund because unless you live on campus, no one is even there right now,” Ogden said.
Ogden also mentioned how a full refund is not expected, but a partial refund would be beneficial.
“We would just like those [students] to know that refunds are still being discussed by several people higher than our department and once a decision is made, the campus community will be notified, either from our office or UCO,” Platt said.
Apart from parking permits, university fees are also part of the question regarding refunds. University fees cost $35.55 per credit hour and are broken down into categories: library, technology, student activity, athletics activity and facility fees.
Regarding the campus closure, some may wonder if all these fees are continuing to be used by students.
“The fees that students pay support many university-related costs that are still ongoing even as we have transitioned to our temporary virtual campus,” said Ashley Gardner with UCO’s Bursar Office.
According to Gardner, all services are still able to be utilized by students.
She said the campus library and Office of Information Technology have done an “incredible job” at being available to students through virtual means.
Gardner also said the Office of Student Engagement will be offering virtual events, and the Center for Counseling and Well-Being has continued its services virtually.
Fees paid by students also help to “pay for ongoing debt service payments on the bonds that funded the construction of our facilities, which must still be paid during this time,” said Adrienne Nobles, vice president for Communications and Public Affairs.
Nobles said students are beginning to question online learning, thinking it is less than face-to-face instruction. Usually, students enrolled in regular online classes pay an additional fee to support the additional technology.
However, students are not being charged for the switch to online classes.
“Many of the financial resources we currently have are supporting the alternative delivery of instruction and services,” Nobles said.
The last fee regarding refunds is graduation. Students pay a one-time fee when they apply to graduate as a senior.
“Right now we have approximately 1,370 students approved for spring graduation and 217 approved for summer,” said Shelley Lute, associate registrar for Graduation Services.
Due to COVID-19, commencement ceremonies have been canceled for the month of May. However, for those graduating, there was an application fee of $45 and if late, an addition $25.
Since these fees are processing fees, they will not be refunded because they are not tied to commencement, Lute said.
“Regarding commencement ceremonies, we are in the final stages of our plans to recognize our spring 2020 class,” Nobles said.
Despite the university not offering refunds, there are other resources for students facing new challenges and uncertainty.
“The UCO Foundation is raising funds for our students who need additional financial support during this time and students can apply online for that assistance,” Nobles said.