EASTERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY (WCIA) — EIU school officials have given permission for the school president to start issuing credits or refunds to students who do not return to campus housing this spring.

An action item authorizing these refunds or credits was passed Thursday afternoon by the EIU Board of Trustees at an emergency meeting. School President Dr. David Glassman said they will be strongly urging students to not return to campus before or after spring break. He added everything they need for classes is online.

For students living in residence halls, Glassman said when they return from spring break, they should be prepared to come, take their belongings and return to their permanent residences. 

Glassman also announced they felt the need to cancel on-site commencement ceremonies. Graduating students will still be sent a program including their names and they will get their diplomas at the normal time.

Like other universities, EIU will be hosting only online classes or alternative method classes, instead of traditional face-to-face instruction. Many campus facilities, such as recreational center, bowling alley and swimming pool have been closed. Arts programming has also been canceled. Counseling and career center services will continue to be provided remotely.

He added will be some “extraordinary cases” of students who will need to keep living in on-campus housing including those who are from out of the county, those who do not have permanent homes or those who do not have the technology at their homes to finish their courses online. It will be up to students to make those decisions, Glassman said, not a state arbitrator.

“If it’s not an extraordinary circumstance, there is no reason to be on campus.”

As other universities have already indicated, students who do not return to official campus housing will have accounts credited or given prorated refunds based on the remainder of the school year or housing contracts.

“While I believe it is the necessary thing to do or the right thing to do, I do not have the authority to do so,” Glassman said, adding students will certainly believe they are entitled to return to campus if they do not get a refund.

Those with past due accounts will have credit applied towards their balances, according to the school president. Students returning next year can use those credits for future tuition or fees. For those students not returning next year or graduating, the school can provide refunds.

Check-out for students living on campus begin Sunday. If all students who reside on campus elect to leave, the cost of crediting or refunding them would not exceed $3.8 million.

School leaders are also expecting to save somewhere around $1 million because of the reduced need for food and student labor in their dining halls, according to Interim Vice President of Business Affairs Paul McCann. That would be in addition to some savings on utilities by not having to air condition or heat certain buildings.

According to Glassman, the Illinois Board of Education has requested a list of costs related to COVID-19. Those include expenses of a real or tentative nature and contingency costs. For example, the cancellation of March Madness will reduce funds provided by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) by $600,000 – $800,000. It could be as high as $1 million “in a good year.”

“We don’t know exactly how much, but these are things that could affect us,” he said.

The University of Illinois (UI) will also be providing refunds to students who move out of campus housing by March 28. Their accounts will get prorated credit for permanent room assignments and academic meal plans as of March 14. Click here for more information on UI Housing’s refund policy.