University of Oregon students who choose to move out of the residence halls during the academic year are responsible for a charge of $9 a day until June of 2021.
Bentley Freeman said this charge complicates housing for students like him who don’t feel comfortable living in the dorms and want to move out.
“It’s frustrating because university housing isn’t the cheapest thing, so for the university to charge a cancellation fee … it isn’t some huge logistics issue for them to find another person to take up that room,” Freeman said. “It’s clearly just nickel-and-diming, trying to dissuade students from moving out.”
Freeman said while he’s been able to have somewhat of a social life with the people on his floor in Kalapuya Ilihi, the resident advisors don’t “police things equally.” He said some groups of students constantly get written up for breaking COVID-19 protocol, while other students who do so never get in trouble. This is one of the few reasons why he’s considering moving into his fraternity’s chapter facility in spring term.
“[The fee] does make it a little less clear-cut,” Freeman said. “I think it’s definitely to keep students in housing as long as possible. ‘Cause the university wants that money.”
UO spokesperson Saul Hubbard said students were given the opportunity to cancel their residence hall contracts with no penalty through Oct. 15, 2020. This gave students under a month to decide whether or not to stay in their dorms for the year. After that date, students would be charged the cancellation fee of $9 a day for each day remaining in their contract, and all contracts run until the end of the 2020-2021 academic year.
The university has a Residence Hall Cancellation Fee Credit Back program in which the cancellation fee can be credited to the student to live on campus in 2021 for Winter, Spring or Fall term. Students who have registered to live on campus starting winter term may cancel before Jan. 2, 2021, to avoid financial penalties.
However, at other state schools such as Oregon State University and University of Portland, students can cancel their housing contracts at any time and not incur any extra fees. Students at these schools are charged only for the days they occupy their room on campus and are refunded for all the days remaining in their contract period after they move out.
Drew Bollins-Burke lives in Global Scholars Hall and said his college experience so far has been bland. With COVID-19 restrictions in place, he said it’s been hard for him to meet people and have a normal first-year experience. He said he’s considering moving out because classes are online and he could save a lot of money taking courses from home.
“Room and board for one semester is about $5,000, and with that kind of money I could be paying about a year’s worth of rent in my own place with more space and more freedom,” Bollins-Burke said. “So it doesn’t really make much sense for me to be spending all that money when I could be having about the same experience at a much cheaper place with better living conditions.”
He said the $9 a day cancellation fee adds up quickly when trying to pay for college, and he hopes to save up money at home so he can have a better experience next year.
“I think it’s kind of ridiculous that the fee exists. I can’t think of any reason why they would charge somebody who’s not here,” Bollins-Burke said. “They’re already saving money on utilities, so why are they charging people more? I just can’t really see any justification for it, especially since it’s not happening at other state schools like OSU.”