No word yet on refunds, graduation plans, at UNC-Chapel Hill

Posted March 26, 2020 1:45 p.m. EDT
Updated March 26, 2020 3:17 p.m. EDT

— The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has raised about $500,000 so far to help students who need financial assistance during the COVID-19 crisis, Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said Thursday.

The Carolina Student Impact Fund is supported by private donors, and university leaders said they don't plan to tap UNC-Chapel Hill's endowment, which has taken a hit in the stock market downturn.

The money is running through the university's student financial aid program.

There's no word yet on what sort of refunds students will get on room and board fees this semester, though Guskiewicz said he expects some will be paid. Those decisions will be made at the university system level, UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees Chairman Richard Stevens said, for the sake of consistency between campuses.

Stevens said he expects guidance on the issue to come down next week.

Most students were told to leave campus as the UNC system has moved to virtual classes in the name of social distancing, but UNC-Chapel Hill still has about 900 students living in residence halls, Guskiewicz said. Dining halls have converted to takeout service, the chancellor said during a brief online press conference following Thursday morning's Board of Trustees meeting.

The university is likely to ask the General Assembly for increased funding soon, since staff salaries and other expenses remain despite the near-campus-wide close down.

"There will be a deficit at the end of the day if there are refunds, and we're assuming that there will be some kind of refund," Guskiewicz said.

Nothing's been decided about spring graduation ceremonies, other than they're postponed, Guskiewicz said. Seniors are responding to a survey, and so far, the most popular suggestion is an evening ceremony at Kenan Memorial Stadium in mid-August, he said.

Other potential options include a virtual ceremony, which hasn't seen much support, or waiting until the fall or winter to hold a ceremony, Guskiewicz said.

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