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Penn State Reduces Room and Board Rates for Spring Semester

With the start of the university’s in-person classes delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Penn State’s Board of Trustees on Wednesday approved a reduction in the previously planned room and board rates for the spring semester.

Under the new rates, a standard double room will cost $2,754, down $673 from the rate approved last year. A mid-level meal plan will cost $2,165, down $284.

Combined, the total standard double room and mid-level meal plan will be $4,919, a 16.3% reduction from the $5,876 approved last year.

Specific rates for each campus, housing option and meal plan, are available at hfs.psu.edu/rates. 

Penn State announced last month that its spring semester would begin with fully remote instruction on Jan. 19, with the plan to resume in-person classes on Feb. 15.

The adjustment to room and board rates is a straight daily proration for the number of days the university will be in the remote period, the same as changes to rates in the fall due to the end of in-person classes before Thanksgiving.

Penn State anticipates an estimated $26 million financial impact because of the delayed in-person start.

Housing and Food Services has experienced the worst revenue losses across the university since the start of the pandemic, with students not returning from spring break last spring, departing prior to Thanksgiving in the fall and now returning to campus later for spring 2021.

And that has had an impact on employees as well. University spokesman Wyatt DuBois said in an email in late December that every year ‘a few hundred employees working primarily in Housing and Food Services’ have a temporary unpaid work stoppage from the time students leave campus in January until they return for the spring semester.

‘Because the University had to delay the return of students by a month, however, this unpaid period was extended for some of these employees,’ DuBois wrote. ‘Employees were notified based on the language contained in Penn State policies or, for employees represented by a labor union, the process contained in the University’s collective bargaining agreement.’

DuBois said the university plans to return most of those employees the week of Feb. 8, ahead of the planned student return on Feb. 15, ‘although that date is subject to change based on health care capacities and the ongoing pandemic.’

Penn State does not expect that the delayed start to the semester will result in any permanent job losses, DuBois said.