$24M in virus refunds planned to Louisiana college students

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana colleges are returning at least $24 million to students because the academic year was interrupted by the coronavirus outbreak.

LSU is doling out the largest amount in refunds at $4.4 million. The University of Louisiana at Lafayette is sending back $3.8 million, and Southern University in Baton Rouge is returning $3.5 million to its students.

The Advocate reports Southeastern Louisiana University is refunding $3.3 million. Nicholls State University is returning $932,095. The University of New Orleans is reimbursing its students $499,816.

Students at Grambling State University will receive $2.8 million. Louisiana Tech University is refunding $1.2 million. McNeese State University is returning $643,439. Students at Northwestern State University are getting $1.3 million. The University of Louisiana at Monroe is refunding $981,657 and Southern University in New Orleans refunded $334,000.

The figures were discussed Wednesday by the state’s top higher education board, the Board of Regents.

Most of the refunds cover charges for housing, since students had to vacate their dorms and on-campus apartments about two months before the scheduled end of the school year. Refunds also cover some meal plans reimbursements.

“For the housing and meal plan credits, they were first applied to any outstanding amounts owed to LSU,” said Ernie Ballard, a spokesman for the university.

“If a refund was due and the student had banking information on file, we direct deposited the refund,” he said. “Otherwise, a check was issued and mailed to their local mailing address.”

Most colleges and universities began moving to online classes in March as Louisiana became one of the nation’s hot spots for the coronavirus pandemic.

A congressional virus aid package sent $147 million in assistance to Louisiana’s colleges and universities to help with their expenses.

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