Students Receive Refunds for Mason Services

Fourth Estate/Alexandria McAlpine

Director of Parking and Transportation offers explanation on parking refunds


Mason refunded students on housing, dining and parking last week via direct deposit and check. Those who have outstanding balances on their accounts will see the refund applied to that amount. 

Students received refunds of varying amounts, depending on what type of plans they held for each service.

All refunds are expected to be processed by the end of the semester, according to an email sent on April 1 from the Office of the President that initially announced refund amounts. 

In total, the university will refund $7.1 million in housing fees, $4.3 million in dining fees and $1.77 million in parking fees,” Interim President Anne Holton wrote. “This represents roughly 5,500 on-campus housing refunds, 15,000 parking passes and 4,300 meal plans.”

Parking and Transportation followed the academic calendar to determine the weeks for which refunds would be calculated for both annual and semester passes, according to Cantor. 

“The refund amounts were calculated to include our fixed operating costs; these expenses have already been paid or cannot be reduced as a result of the move to online instruction,” he said.

Cantor explained that annual permit refunds include the summer months, and that “permits are still valid through their original expiration date should students need to park on campus.”

Unlike parking, housing and dining refunds are not based on fixed operating costs, according to the coronavirus FAQ webpage of the Student Accounts Office. 

“Refund amounts are based on [a] prorated rate for the spring semester, less an accommodation for fixed costs that support Housing operations,” the website states, meaning that refunds were calculated based on days left in the semester. 

Parking refund amounts caused confusion after students noticed a different refund amount on their Student Account than stated on the refund tables

“An error in the parking refund file was found, so it was corrected and re-uploaded to Student Accounts, who will process the refunds for parking as well as housing and dining,” Josh Cantor, director of parking and transportation, wrote in an email to Fourth Estate. “A message has been sent to student permit holders that explains the error.”

The message, sent via email on April 24, offered this clarification: “We detected an error in the initial file upload, so we updated the file with the refund amounts on Monday, April 20. When you look at your student account, you will see a Parking Permit Credit COVID-19 posted as a negative amount dated April 19, a reversal of that amount, and then a corrected parking credit.”