Message to Luther Students Regarding Prorated Room and Board Credits/Refunds, Federal Work-Study, and the CARES Act

To: Luther College students and parents
From: Eric Runestad, vice president for finance and administration
Re: Prorated Room and Board Credits/Refunds, Federal Work-Study, and the CARES Act
Date: March 31, 2020

Dear students and parents:

I am writing today to provide information regarding prorated room and board credits/refunds, federal work-study, and implications of the CARES Act on providing financial relief for students.

As noted in the campus-wide communication on March 20, we are working on processing adjustments for room and board for students who are no longer living on campus. Within the next week, Luther’s Office for Financial Services will be prorating room and board charges based on each student’s last day on campus, or March 18, whichever is later. Credit adjustments will take into account the room assignment, meal plan, and financial aid award of each student. After applying the credit to outstanding student account charges, if a positive balance remains on the account, we will apply the credit to the Fall 2020 semester. Students may instead request a refund. The Office for Financial Services will send each student an email within the next week with additional information about this process and how it applies to their student account. In the meantime, Luther is waiving all interest and late fees on student account balances for the month of April.

We are also awaiting guidance from the Department of Education about details of the CARES Act that was signed into law on March 27. We want to understand how this legislation might provide assistance to students in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, including lost work-study wages. Separate federal guidance allows Luther College to make federally-funded work-study payments to students who are unable to continue working. However, federal work-study funds account for only 18% of work-study budget dollars at Luther College, and not all students employed on campus receive federal dollars. The federal work-study guidance does not extend to student employment wages provided directly by Luther College, beyond the required 25% institutional match to federally funded wages. Given that 93% of Luther College’s federal funds have already been disbursed to students, we are waiting to obtain clarification from the Department of Education about whether and how the CARES Act might enable Luther College to provide further financial relief to students, including the disbursement of work-study wages funded directly by Luther College. We will provide an additional update when we obtain further information.

Thank you for your understanding and patience.

Eric Runestad
Vice President for Finance and Administration