UC Davis Issues Small Refunds for Portion of Spring 2020 Campus-based Fees

A tree in blossom in foreground and students on bikes in the background
UC Davis is issuing small refunds for some portion of spring 2020 campus-based fees unexpended because of the pandemic shutdown. (UC Davis photo)

Most UC Davis students registered during spring 2020 are receiving a small refund of campus-based fees in recognition of the modifications to some campus services at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The refunds range from a total of $2.04 for law students to $7.76 for undergraduates. Students who were in some self-supporting graduate professional degree programs are not eligible for refunds.

On Tuesday, March 15, refunds for eligible students or recent graduates will be posted to their MyBill accounts as a credit. Those with active direct deposit will receive a refund in their bank account as long as there aren’t any other fees outstanding. For those without active direct deposit, the campus will send a check by regular mail to the mailing address listed in the Student Information System, or SISWEB.

Public health measures implemented at the beginning of the pandemic compelled UC Davis to move to remote instruction, and students continued to make progress toward their degree. The campus suspended most on-campus activities and issued refunds of payments for unused campus housing, food plans and parking.

In a June 29, 2020, letter, then-UC President Janet Napolitano asked chancellors to analyze campus-based fees and, where appropriate and feasible, issue refunds or their equivalents for all net fees unexpended and unencumbered due to COVID-19 for the spring quarter or second half of the spring semester 2020.

Most campus-based fees are generated through a student-involved referenda process. They are represented in the current fee schedules for undergraduate, graduate and professional students and available through the historical tuition and fees link — all accessible from the Tuition & Fees website. A glossary of fees explains how they are used.

To determine the refunds, the campus identified whether the net, unused portion of a qualifying fee was attributable to the pandemic shutdown. The analysis was guided by principles referenced in Napolitano’s letter and was conducted with the assistance of an accounting firm engaged by the UC Office of the President. During the process, UC Davis invited student leaders to provide feedback on the preliminary findings.

Some fees or portions of fees were excluded from the amount considered eligible for refunds:

  • the portion of campus-based fees allocated for financial aid
  • fees that were expended
  • fees encumbered for longer-term, ongoing expenditures (such as debt financing, ongoing upkeep and planned capital improvement projects for facilities)

Thirteen campus-based fees had a total year-end positive net balance of $7.1 million for 2019-20. After subtracting about $6.5 million for encumbered longer-term, ongoing expenditures and $438,026 for standard contributions to reserves, the total net unexpended and unencumbered fees totaled $236,381.

Out of the $236,381, the refund for each student was calculated based on the fees they paid and the unexpended and unencumbered portion of that fee. Campus-based fees — and therefore refunds — vary by student level (i.e., undergraduate or graduate) and academic program (i.e., law or veterinary medicine).

Other UC campuses are also issuing some refunds. Refund amounts are different because campus-based fees vary widely from campus to campus.

For subsequent academic quarters, UC Davis has published on relevant websites a written disclaimer: “Tuition and fees have been set regardless of the method of instruction and will not be refunded in the event instruction occurs remotely for any part of the academic year.” 

The UC Office of the President has published FAQs about the refunds

For help with individual fee refunds, contact myaccount@ucdavis.edu.

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