In light of recent events surrounding the coronavirus and its impact on business operations, Fourth View created the Return My Semester series to better understand how the virus has disrupted the education sector.

Fourth View sent FOIA requests seeking information surrounding finances and guidance connected to COVID-19 from approximately the time campuses began acting.

Ohio State University (OSU) responded to our request, which yielded roughly 33 pages of relevant documents. Here are some highlights:

  • Page 2: On March 22, Vice President Bruce McPheron, listed tuition refunds in an academic working group: “Wording regarding not providing tuition refund (Messinger, B&F, Davey)”
  • The following pages discuss in detail the financial logistics and considerations of bringing students back home and the Office of International Affairs holding $1 million in reserves to cover the last minute logistical changes.
  • Page 23: Former President Drake on March 17th was on a Coalition of Urban Serving Universities call that mentioned issuing student fee and tuition refunds from different universities and their stances. Under the section title “Refunds,” Virginia Commonwealth University, CSU Northridge, San Jose State University, and Georgia State University discussed issuing refunds and for what. GSU, for instance, said this: “For example, a fee for service and no service is delivered versus a fee that’s paying down debt.” Payment on debt obligations (like construction costs for buildings) seem to be critical to the determination of refunds.
  • Pages 32-33: Emails of students who requested tuition refunds