MTSU refunds students amidst COVID-19 responses

Story by Kristi Jones / Contributing Writer

COVID-19 is continuing to evolve throughout the United States, and the education system is working to adapt for their students. Middle Tennessee State University has announced they would be refunding students for their on-campus housing.

MTSU stated they would be refunding students up to 60 percent of the total weekly rate of what the students originally paid.

Students who vacate their residence halls before April 5 will receive $550 and those who vacate before April 19 will receive $330.

Students who leave their housing after April 19 will not be eligible for any refund.

“MTSU is not a profit-making entity. We’re not allowed to be a profit-making entity. We don’t have shareholders or pay dividends to anyone. Our mandate is to balance expenses with revenue,” said Debra Sells, Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Services.

MTSU employees do not get bonuses if the university finds a way to save money or create a new revenue stream. Revenue is immediately put back into the campus to provide for the students.

There are roughly 1,200 students still using housing facilities according to the MTSU housing department.

17 percent of the 20,000 undergraduate students live on campus. Over 2,000 students are taking advantage of the university refund, and the university is having to refund roughly $800,000.

“If we make a decision to make either housing or tuition refunds, then we have to find ways to offset that cost since we don’t have a big saving account with millions of dollars. Making massive refunds would likely mean having to add to tuition, eliminating free tutoring or cutting other academic services,” Debra Sells added.

Some students are deciding to take the refund for a variety of reasons.

“I need the money for future rent due to my job not being open until further notice. I think the administration is doing everything right at this time. They are staying on top of things to keep us safe and keeping the most people happy,” said Kendall Clark, 19.

Other students are choosing to stay on campus to keep their families safe. They try to keep their life as normal as possible and use their entire meal plans.

Aramark is the dining corporation that MTSU works with. Aramark has decided to work with MTSU students and will be rolling over all unused Flexbucks until December of 2020. McCallie’s dining hall and the Student Union Pod will also be open for any on-campus residents for abbreviated times.

Aramark was financially hit by the tornados in early March as some of their trucks and storage facilities were in the path of the tornado. After that loss, they are still available to help MTSU as much as they can.

Students are also concerned if there will be a refund for tuition as there are no more face-to-face classes.

“If we were to offer every student a $1000 refund on tuition, we would be looking at having to find cuts that we could make in order to offset a total refund cost of $22,000,000,” Debra Sells added.

The university is not saving any money as classes have been shifted to remote learning. All faculty must still be paid, and student employees are being paid even though they are no longer working on campus. The university is paying for hot spots and extra computer rentals for students with poor or no internet access, and there was a university-wide internet upgrade to accommodate staff and students accessing D2L and the MTSU system from home.

All are increased costs that were not in the original allotted budget. MTSU is continuing to work with students to provide the best experience possible in these troubling times as everyone is having to shift their old routine lives.

To contact News Editor Savannah Meade, email

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