R.I. colleges expected to lose $75M-$100M due to room-and-board refunds

THE UNIVERSITY OF Rhode Island is expected to refund close to $8 million to students for lost room and board due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Rhode Island President Daniel P. Egan said Thursday Rhode Island-based colleges could lose between $75 million and $100 million in revenue due to such refunds. / COURTESY UNIVERSITY OF RHODE ISLAND
THE UNIVERSITY OF Rhode Island is expected to refund close to $8 million to students for lost room and board due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Rhode Island President Daniel P. Egan said Thursday Rhode Island-based colleges could lose between $75 million and $100 million in revenue due to such refunds. / COURTESY UNIVERSITY OF RHODE ISLAND

PROVIDENCE – Colleges in Rhode Island could lose between $75 million and $100 million in planned room-and-board refunds to students forced off campus by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Daniel P. Egan, president of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Rhode Island.

The association represents the eight Rhode Island-based private institutions but Egan’s estimate includes Rhode Island College and URI.

The refunds will come from auxiliary funds generated by the colleges that are separate from what is gained through tuition and state aid. Egan on Thursday said colleges can use such funds at their own discretion.

For example, URI – which, according to Provost Donald DeHayes is expected to refund close to $8 million to students on their lost room and board – typically uses the money to maintain campus housing and help pay debt service on bonds that are used for construction projects.

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URI spokesman David Lavallee said the school is not allowed to make up for that lost funding by shifting money from state-funded accounts. He could not say how the refunds will affect the school’s planning but added layoffs are not being considered.

James Bessette is the PBN special projects editor, and also covers the nonprofit and education sectors. You may reach him at Bessette@PBN.com. You may also follow him on Twitter at @James_Bessette.

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