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University of Mississippi awaiting guidance from IHL regarding reimbursements

University of Mississippi Students may soon get an answer to whether or not they will be refunded for spring semester expenses due to COVID-19.

The pandemic has disrupted daily routines, including the ability for students to attend in-person instruction on Mississippi’s public university campuses.

Since March 23, Ole Miss has closed its classroom and lecture hall doors. Most residence halls have been closed off, though a couple hundred students who could not find a safe alternative for off-campus living remain in one dormitory.

Due to the inability to use the dining halls, parking lots and access to other amenities that come with paying tuition, some students have begun asking for reimbursements.

Ole Miss student Shayden Smith began a petition on Change.org to Institutions of Higher Learning Commissioner Dr. Alfred Rankins, Jr., Ole Miss Chancellor Glenn Boyce, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves and Ole Miss director of student housing John Yaun.

The petition is requesting reimbursement for on-campus housing and meal plans. As of Friday morning, the petition had over 4,900 of the requested 5,000 signatures.

“As a result of this change, students have been displaced and can no longer utilize the meal plans that they have bought and paid as much as $1,985 for,” the petition read. “Because of this, many students are now incurring additional living expenses for food, housing and so much more that they would otherwise not have to pay.”

Ole Miss, along with the state’s seven other public universities, is waiting to see what the state Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) will instruct them to do regarding any type of reimbursement to students.

“The state’s universities have been asked by our governing body, the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning, to wait for guidance from state officials before we communicate next steps to our university community,” a statement provided by the University read. “We recognize that many of our families are eager for more information. The moment we receive guidance, we will communicate immediately with our students and their families.”

There has not been a timeline given on when the IHL will provide its decision and guidance to Mississippi’s universities.

Last week, another Southeastern Conference school announced its intentions of providing a form of reimbursement to students. The University of Alabama will give a prorated refund based on applicable students’ residence hall, meal plan and parking permit types and will contact them by April 15.