Some fees will be refunded to students who vacate campus

  • KELSEY WALLING/Tribune-Herald Joey Keegan carries the trash out of Haley Johns’ dorm at Tuesday the University of Hawaii at Hilo. Keegan helped Johns move out of her dorm early as they prepare to move into a house together.

The University of Hawaii at Hilo will refund approximately $350,000 in room and board fees to students who have moved off campus during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an update to the UH Board of Regents earlier this month, President David Lassner said that while there is no intention to refund tuition, UH identified other fees that could be refunded on a prorated basis.

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Refunded fees include room and board, and fees for the student recreation centers at UH-Hilo and UH-Manoa.

Farrah-Marie Gomes, vice chancellor for student affairs at UH-Hilo, said students who have vacated or will vacate the university’s residence halls between March 12 and April 30 are being provided refunds.

“So far, we have processed just over 260 refunds, and we expect approximately 125 more,” she said.

There currently are about 175 students still living on campus, she said.

Senior Haley Johns was moving out of her room in Hale ‘Ikena on Tuesday with the help of her friend, Joey Keegan. She’s been slowly moving out throughout April and plans to move into a house with her friend this summer.

“I decided to finish up today so I could get some part of the check we’re supposed to get,” said Johns, who will graduate this semester. “We got an announcement over email, I think.”

“We’re just staying safe and trying to get through the semester,” Keegan said.

The Tribune-Herald reported last fall that a record number of students were living in campus housing.

According to student counts at that time, there were 781 student residing on campus, out of 850 total available beds, the highest occupancy UH-Hilo had ever had.

Gomes said, too, that UH-Hilo plans to refund $35 in student rec center fees to approximately 2,900 students, totaling just more than $100,000.

It’s not immediately clear what impact these refunds will have on the university’s budget.

Follow-up questions emailed to Gomes on Tuesday were not answered by press time.

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Photographer Kelsey Walling contributed to this report.

Email Stephanie Salmons at ssalmons@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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