CLOSE UP: Face the costs during COVID-19



While room and board reimbursements eased the financial pressure for many students after the campus closed, equity issues remained after the campus closed and the sudden switch to distance learning.

Students who were unable to return home – either because home was not a safe or viable option, or because of rapidly changing travel restrictions – were allowed to stay on campus with safety guidelines in place.

These decisions included consolidating the number of mess halls, while meeting student dietary needs, de-densifying student accommodation on campus, while ensuring that students still have access to a “community” of other remaining students and ensuring that students have access to services like Yale Health.

“The main issues were related to food, shelter, health care and general safety,” Howard said. “So the most urgent decisions focused on how to address these concerns, while providing the possibility of greater normalcy for the remaining students. “

For returning students, administrators took stock of the resources they would need to complete the semester remotely.

“Once the students got home safely, we started trying to assess the students’ needs to complete the semester remotely – starting with the students who we knew had the greatest financial need or could have the most limited access to the technology needed to complete the semester. Howard said.

The YCDO organized a plan to collect laptops and other essentials from student rooms on campus and ship them to the students. Emergency loans of laptops and Wi-Fi hotspots were also given to students who did not have access to a computer or a stable internet connection. In some cases, emergency grants have been given to students to improve their home internet capabilities or fund repairs to their existing technology to allow students to participate in their classes online, Howard said.


The only ministerial spending authorized during this period was for student salaries. Departments, residential colleges and university offices continued to pay students the hourly wages expected for remote work. In cases where remote work was not possible, departments were ordered to pay their student workers for the number of hours they would have spent working had they remained on campus. For some students, continuing to collect these salaries has closed the family income gap.

“Basically the money I have [been] coming off campus I’m saving money because my dad stopped working since he was 65, and the money I earn helps us a bit to support ourselves, ”Olivares said.

In addition to student accommodation during the pandemic, the University also had to formulate a plan for staff members who moved to work on a severely depopulated campus.

According to university president Scott Strobel, staff at Yale Housing and Dining continued to be paid throughout the spring and summer. In addition, Yale Housing and Dining staff are currently receiving the same amount and number of workers as if the campus were operating at full capacity, Strobel said.

“We used the University’s reserves to pay their salaries even though some of the work stopped when the students left campus and some of them were unable to work from home,” said Strobel. “The cost to cover the salaries of employees who could not work was over $ 25 million.”


Other schools across the country, such as Stanford University, Harvard University, Columbia University, and Cornell University, have issued similar financial policies regarding student accommodation and food costs over the course of the year. spring semester.

In an email sent to Cornell students, the university said it would provide “students on campus with emergency financial assistance to support their relocation expenses by offsetting the value of their remaining housing contract. beyond March 29, 2020 “.

Undergraduates who resided in a residence at Columbia also received a pro-rated refund based on the day the students were mandated to vacate their residence.

However, not all schools have issued refunds. Julia Coccaro, a sophomore student at Barnard College last year, spent days waiting for Barnard’s responses before being informed that she would not receive a housing reimbursement based on her financial aid.

According to Coccaro, she wanted to use the reimbursement to cover living expenses in New York. As she did not receive a refund from the school, Coccaro lived on the Morningside Heights campus for the remainder of Barnard’s spring semester.

As the pandemic spreads, college financial responses continue to vary across the country. While Yale’s budget allows the University to adjust in this time of change, some smaller colleges are strapped for cash and unable to do so.

MacMurray College in Illinois, for example, announced in May that it was due to close after 174 years, making it the first higher education victim of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rutgers University, a public school in New Jersey, has announced it will lose $ 200 million in revenue due to COVID-19, University President Robert Barchi said at a meeting of the Council of governors earlier this year. A quarter of that amount – $ 50 million – will be used to reimburse students for unused campus services.

“Basically I’m pretty grateful for how Yale handled this whole situation in the short time we left for the break when we were asked not to come back,” Olivares said. “I know a lot of my friends from small liberal arts schools who are also FGLI have not been reimbursed or are not currently paid for their jobs on campus until the end of the school year. You know the only way Yale is able to do this is because of the money they have, and I’m thankful that they actually used their budget to support students for the remaining few weeks of the semester.

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