Subject: Details about a partial refund for room and board
Date: March 20, 2020

Calvin University students and parents,

We know that this is a very uncertain time for all of us, and we appreciate the grace and patience involved in navigating the uncharted waters of COVID-19 together.

As mentioned in President Le Roy’s communication to students and parents on Wednesday evening, we have been exploring partial refunds for room and board to residential students. As we anticipate this additional expense, we are working hard to understand the impact of this on our operating budget and to develop clear processes that support our students and their families as they navigate this unexpected reality. Your personal and financial investment in a Calvin education matters deeply to us.

We recognize that there will be many questions as students move out of Calvin housing and into their homes in the coming days. You will find detailed answers to many of your questions below. In short, Calvin will be issuing a partial refund for students who have moved out of on-campus housing this semester due to the COVID-19 situation. The partial refund will be applied as follows:

  • Students who move out of campus housing by the end of March will be given a credit on their student account in the amount of 40% of room and board costs.
  • The credit will be applied toward the 2020-21 academic year, with a few exceptions granted in the following cases:
    • Students and families with demonstrated urgent and immediate financial need may apply for the credit to be issued in the form of a refund (please see a link to the application form below).
    • Graduating seniors will see a credit to their student account applied this summer, after their degree has been conferred. Once posted, the credit for graduating seniors will be refunded to the student.
    • Students who do not plan to return to Calvin in fall 2020 will see a credit issued to their student account, which may be used to cover the cost of tuition, room, and board in a future semester.

Given the complexity and variety of student situations, we have prepared answers to a list of Frequently Asked Questions. They are listed below and can also be found as part of our broader COVID-19 FAQ on the Calvin website.

We continue to pray for all of you amid this unprecedented series of events, and we invite you to keep Calvin, our students, faculty, and staff, and our financial situation in your prayers during the months ahead.

With hope,
Jim English, vice president for finance

FINANCIAL SERVICES FAQ – COVID 19

Updated 3/19/2020

How has COVID-19 impacted Calvin University financially?

The COVID-19 virus and the ensuing worldwide efforts to quarantine and flatten the curve are taking a tremendous toll on businesses, non-profit organizations, and individuals and their families. There is no escaping that fact. Like many organizations, Calvin University stands poised to suffer significant financial losses. We have incurred a number of unexpected expenses, experienced a loss of revenue, and watched our endowment portfolios plummet. Within the first week alone, Calvin suffered the loss of nearly half a million dollars in revenue with the cancellation of on-campus events, conferences, and other rentals. Unexpected costs are incurred daily with additional cleaning and administrative efforts, and we are also anticipating the added cost of far more significant sick leave for our people. With the decision to extend online instruction through the end of the semester, the university will need to cover an additional $3 million in unexpected expenses tied to student refunds for room and board.

While we hope to offset some of these costs through decreased expenses (i.e., savings on food, labor, utilities, travel, etc.), we recognize that we will likely be navigating difficult personnel decisions as we adjust our operations to accommodate changing workload. Calvin will recover from this crisis, but things will undoubtedly be different moving forward. Amid these very real challenges, we hold fast to the hope we profess in Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Will Calvin be adjusting students’ costs for room and board given the move to online instruction?

Yes. We recognize the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on all within the Calvin community. Given the university’s decision to continue online instruction through the end of the spring semester, we have decided to issue partial refunds in the form of student account credit to students who have moved out of campus housing.

How much will be credited back to students?

Residential students who have paid for the full semester of room and board and who move out of campus housing by March 31 will receive a credit in the amount of 40% of the spring semester room and board (this includes students who have already left campus but will need to return later to retrieve their belongings). This credit will be applied toward the cost of tuition, room, and board for the 2020-21 academic year for returning students. Graduating seniors and non-returning students will be accommodated differently (see below).

Students who had room and board subsidized in any way will receive the appropriate prorated amount based on their room and board payments for interim/second semester.

How was the percentage determined?

Student housing contracts include a room and board refund schedule that specifies how much a student is eligible to receive should they leave campus housing before the end of the academic term. We have utilized that schedule for determining the appropriate refund amount. Students who are granted permission to stay in campus housing but leave before the end of the semester may be eligible for a prorated credit. Students who have moved out of campus housing but will need to return to retrieve their belongings sometime before May 21 will be considered “moved out” for the purposes of issuing the credit.

In summary: students leaving campus housing before March 31 will receive a 40% credit. Students who are granted permission to extend their stay in campus housing and who check out before the end of April will receive a 15% credit.

Was Calvin required to reimburse this amount?

Technically, no. This circumstance constitutes a legitimate reason to alter the university housing contract terms. However, we have determined that our best course of action is to honor our students and families, moving forward with trust and assurance that God will provide for our institutional needs. We believe this aligns with our missional commitment to think deeply, act justly, and live wholeheartedly as Christ’s agents of renewal in the world.

Can I choose to gift the room & board refund to Calvin University and receive credit for this as a charitable donation?

Yes! As we work within the reality of resource constraints and aim to meet the unique and rapidly changing needs of our campus community, we would welcome you to consider donating your refund to the Calvin Annual Fund. These undesignated funds are the primary way we will accommodate our community’s evolving needs, both now and in the months to come. Those who choose to contribute in this way will receive a tax receipt for their donation.

To elect to donate your room and board credit to Calvin’s Annual Fund, please click here.

What is the process for issuing the credit?

As mentioned above, the refunded amount will be added to a student’s account and shown as a credit to the tuition, room & board costs for 2020-2021.

We recognize that some of our students have family members whose financial security has been significantly impacted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Students in these circumstances may fill out an application to have their room and board refund credited against the current balance owed rather than obtaining a credit for the 2020-21 academic year, OR they may request that the credit be dispersed directly to them. Students may use this form to apply for either of these options. Each submission will be evaluated individually. We humbly request that only families who have an urgent and immediate financial need submit this form.

(Graduating seniors and students who do not intend to return to Calvin in fall 2020, please see below.)

What if I am staying in campus housing through the end of the semester?

Students with extenuating circumstances who have been granted permission to reside on campus for the remainder of the semester will not receive a credit for room and board. We will continue to provide critical infrastructure for these students and commit to doing our very best to care well for them under these challenging circumstances.

What if I am graduating or not planning to return to Calvin in 2020-2021?

Students who are graduating this spring will see a credit on their account sometime after June 1. As this is a manual process, please note that this credit balance will be refunded as the bursar’s office is able to process each individual refund; in other words, this will take some time. The credit for graduating students will not appear until conferral of degree has been confirmed. Once posted, the credit for graduating seniors will be refunded to the student.

Students who are not graduating this spring and also not planning to return to Calvin in the fall 2020 semester will see a credit balance on their student accounts, which will be available to cover the cost of tuition, room, and board in a future semester.

What if I do not live on campus but have a dining plan?

Some Calvin students who live off campus participate in our dining program by purchasing community dining plans. For students who have meals remaining on their community dining plans, we have determined that the remaining meals will carry over to the 2020-2021 academic year. Credits for community dining plans will only be issued to graduating seniors and will be based on the percentage of meals used. Graduating seniors who currently have siblings at Calvin or who will have a sibling attending Calvin in the 2020-21 academic year may request to have their remaining meals transferred to the sibling. We would also welcome graduating seniors to donate unused meals through Calvin’s “Swipe Out Hunger” program. Graduating seniors who wish to apply for a community dining plan refund should email their request to Steve McBride (Calvin Dining Services) at sm22@calvin.edu. Please note that requests will not be accepted until after June 1, once degrees for graduating seniors have been posted.

When will the credit notifications be completed?

Given the complexity of our housing and dining options as well as the wide variety of student situations we are seeking to accommodate, this process will require a great deal of administrative effort. We are working to implement this process as quickly as we can, but it will take some time. Additional communication will be sent out just as soon as the university is ready to begin processing credits (likely the week following spring break).

Should I pay my April 1 bill?

If you are on a payment plan or have a balance owed, you are still responsible for paying your tuition bill in a timely manner. Late fees will be incurred if student account bills are not paid on time. Please note that financial holds may also be placed on a student’s account in the event of an unpaid bill, which could affect a student’s ability to register for classes for the Fall 2020 semester.

Will tuition be prorated for this current spring semester?

Calvin is continuing to offer classes through the end of this academic year and therefore will not provide refunds for tuition. Despite the unexpected circumstances, we are committed to maintaining excellence in instruction and learning. We are grateful to our gifted faculty who have stepped into this new reality with gracious optimism and creativity. In addition, we thank God for dedicated staff who have shared their expertise and worked tirelessly to equip our students and faculty to do this work well. As our community adjusts to this “new normal,” we are eager to see the many ways that Calvin will continue to foster formational student learning through the provision of excellent Christian education.

Can my room and board credit be used toward tuition for Calvin’s summer term?

Yes. Students may use their room and board credit toward summer tuition for Calvin’s on-campus or online courses. Please email studentaccounts@calvin.edu by April 10th to request that your room and board credit be applied to your 2020 summer tuition.

How does the decision to credit room and board affect the university's operating budget?

Given the current circumstances, Calvin is anticipating a significant deficit in the amount of $3 million this fiscal year. This unanticipated deficit in the final 3 months of the university’s fiscal year presents significant challenges. Considering this new reality, we are taking proactive steps to mitigate the effects of the financial impact as best as possible through reductions of expenses, such as the suspension of all non-essential purchases and university-sponsored travel through June 30, 2020. We have determined that issuing returning students a room and board refund as a credit to their fall 2020 semester will help us minimize job loss by university employees during this tumultuous time.

I am studying away from campus for the remainder of the semester; how will I return my course textbooks?

Calvin’s campus store partner, Follett, has been very responsive to institutional and student needs throughout these disruptive weeks. They are offering free shipping on all online orders and easing the process of book rental returns and buy-backs for students who are studying away from campus. All Calvin students were sent information about these options via email on Thursday, March 19. For additional details, please visit the Calvin Store website.

Financial aid FAQ

Will my current financial aid be affected by changes to the 2019-20 academic year?

Changes in family resources related to Covid-19 will not impact your financial aid positively or negatively for the current academic year.

How will my financial aid be affected for the 2020-21 academic year?

For both current and prospective domestic students, the Financial Aid staff will consider and evaluate known changes in family resources that are shared with us through this Special Circumstances Form. Evidential documentation is required in order to be considered. Prospective International students should email intladm@calvin.edu to describe their circumstances and request consideration. Current International students should review and submit the Returning International Application for Financial Aid Form to FinAid@calvin.edu. Changes to prospective student financial aid packages will be handled promptly. Current students can expect to receive their 2020-21 financial aid packages during May and June, at which time their requests for special consideration will be evaluated. The Financial Aid office will accept special circumstances requests throughout the upcoming academic year.

Will I be considered for academic scholarships if I was unable to take the ACT/SAT prior to March 1?

Yes. Newly admitted students for Fall 2020 will be considered for academic scholarships based on other submitted materials, including high school GPA, recommendations, and admissions materials.

Will a credit for room and board charges, if issued, impact my current financial aid (2019-20)?

Most likely not. There are rare cases where the provider of an outside scholarship may require Calvin to return funds if they were provided to cover costs for room and board. The Financial Aid office will contact you directly if you are impacted in this manner.

Will a credit for room and board charges, if issued, impact my financial aid for next year (2020-21)?

It may. Currently, the Department of Education requires that these monies be considered Estimated Financial Assistance in the determination of subsidized loan availability. We are awaiting clarification about this.

If I need additional assistance for educational related costs, can I still accept my federal student loans for the 2019-20 academic year?

Yes, most certainly. To see if you have eligibility for federal student loans, visit Financial Aid Self-Service to view your available awards. If you need assistance in accepting your loans, please email FinAid@calvin.edu.

Parents may also apply for Federal Parent PLUS or Private loans. Please visit our loan page for information on how to apply.

I’m about to graduate and need to complete federal loan exit counseling. How do I do that, how do I know who my loan servicer will be, and when will loan payments start?

Please visit the Federal Student Aid loan information page. You will find links there to get answers to these questions and more.

If I receive a check for an outside scholarship I was awarded, what should I do?

If the check is made out to Calvin University, please mail it to the mailing address shown below. If the check is made out to you personally, please contact the sender and have them reissue the check made out to Calvin University and then send it to the mailing address shown below. All outside scholarships (non-Calvin) that a student is awarded should be reported to us through this link: Outside Scholarships.

If I need to respond to the Financial Aid office with information to complete FAFSA verification, how do I do that?

We will continue to send you reminders of the information that we need, so continue to check your Calvin and personal emails for instructions. You may mail, fax, or email the information using the contact information below.

How do I contact the Financial Aid office?

Financial aid staff continue to work regular business hours from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. (EST), though many are currently working remotely to adhere to social distancing guidance and help prevent the spread of COVID-19. We look forward to assisting you and appreciate your patience as we respond to the many questions we are receiving. Our goal is to return your message within 24 hours. Currently, email is our preferred method of contact.

By Email: FinAid@calvin.edu By Fax: (616) 469-2957
By Phone: (616) 526-6134 or (800) 688-0122
By Mail: 3201 Burton Street, SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49546
Attn: Financial Aid Office