At this time, UTSA will not commit to offering prorated housing refunds for students in the event that the university forces students to leave on-campus housing, according to a UTSA spokesperson. UTSA-owned campus housing currently holds 1,027 students.
“Our decision would be based on the circumstances at that given time, keeping our students’ wellbeing in mind,” Chief Communications Officer Joe Izbrand said.
UTSA has left open the possibility of forcing most students to leave on-campus housing if the university reaches Level 4 of campus recovery levels, a situation where the vast majority of campus operations would be virtual and the campus would effectively close. The university has not laid out specific circumstances that would lead it to raise its on-campus activity level to Level 4, but it would require a worsening of the COVID-19 pandemic in San Antonio or on campus, such as a wide-scale outbreak. UTSA is currently sitting at Level 3 of on-campus activity.
During the summer, UTSA Housing and Residence Life sent all students planning on living in UTSA-owned campus housing an addendum to their housing contract, which they had to sign in order to live on campus in the fall. The addendum included information about potential refunds in the event of a campus closure.
“This contract is offered by University Housing with the intent to provide housing regardless of changes to the academic schedule or manner of instruction provided by the University,” the contract said. “University Housing does not anticipate closing or issuing a refund as a result of such adjustments.”
Other universities across the country have included similar language in their student housing contracts through addendums, such as the University of Texas at Arlington, which used the exact same language as the UTSA contract. Other universities have gone further, such as the University of South Florida, which outright rejected the idea of offering prorated refunds for housing.
In the spring, when UTSA mandated most students to leave on-campus housing because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it returned $3.4 million in prorated refunds to students who lived in UTSA-owned housing. It also returned $2.6 million to students living in University Oaks and Chisholm Hall, which are both owned and operated by Campus Living Villages.
These refunds were part of a major loss in revenue for the university brought on by the pandemic. UTSA has projected losing $37 million in revenue this year, amounting to around 10% of the annual budget. The university has made budget cuts across all departments and university divisions to meet the loss, which included letting go of 312 employees, 69 of which were teaching faculty. The university is expecting to experience continued budget tightening in fiscal years 22 and 23 due to state revenue losses.