The closing of residence halls and the shift from face-to-face to online instruction in the Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education has added to the financial burden of its 14 institutions, including Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
“What we are projecting right now is a revenue shortfall of $100 million,” system spokesman David Pidgeon said Friday.
“That is what we are looking at for room and board. These are estimates. We are continuing to evaluate and look at those numbers.”
As for what sort of refunds may be involved, Pidgeon said. “We provide the guidance … but the decisions are up to the individual universities.”
At IUP, Executive Director of Media Relations Michelle Fryling said, “we are working to finalize the process of refunds, with plans to begin the refund process the week of April 6.”
The room-and-board situation is tied in to the response of the PASSHE schools to the coronavirus or COVID-19 outbreak, which has been an ongoing matter.
On Monday, according to a PASSHE news release, undergraduate and graduate students in experiential learning sites, including professional placements, practica, internships, research internships and clinical rotations, should not report to on-site placements until face-to-face classes resume.
Also this week, the system postponed a previously scheduled meeting of its board of governors, which was to take place April 1 and 2 in Harrisburg. No new date has been announced.
“This has obviously been extraordinarily challenging,” Pidgeon said. “We need to be problem solvers on behalf of those students.”
The state system spokes-man said the 14 universities are “working with the Legislature and the governor and making sure we are providing education through the end of this semester.” He said a long-term goal is to stick to “our mission … to make sure public higher education is resilient through this time.”
In a blog posted Wednesday, system Chancellor Dr. Daniel Greenstein said, “during this ‘new normal,’ it is important that we have patience with each other, with our technology, and with those who help keep it running — all of whom are doing their best to make an impossible situation a little more tolerable.”
The chancellor provided advice on all levels, asking students to “please work closely with your faculty members, and be patient as they navigate this process.”
He asked faculty and staff to remember that “our students are under pressure any given semester, and this one has brought an all-time new level of intensity.”
He thanked parents, alumni, donors and community leaders “for providing an extra level of support during this time. Knowing that you are there to encourage and sustain our students, faculty and staff is more meaningful than you’ll ever imagine.”