College students are always looking for some extra cash. Turns out, you might be owed up to $100.
Over 300 students who left the dorms during the 2016-17 school year did not receive their housing deposits back in a timely manner. Usually, fees are processed one semester after students move out of the dorms.
“The fall semester after the student leaves the dorm, we get a list from the housing office, giving us a list of damages [and] lost key charges,” chief financial officer and controller Pratima Gandhi said. “What has to happen is after that, whatever year the student leaves the dorm, if they don’t come back the following fall and live in the dorm … that’s when it triggers to start the refund process.”
The $100 is a one-time deposit with the enrollment fee to insure damages and lost keys. Once moved out, the deposit can go towards any other fees. Any leftover balance is refunded in check or cash. This money is held separately and not used towards the university budget, revenue or operating expense.
Normally, one employee oversees the dorm refunds with a manager backing it up. During the refund process, people changed positions or retired and the job was not finished.
“There is an individual that handles the dorm refunds and then … the manager is the backup,” Gandhi said. “The person left, the manager left and a third person left … so in that process a part of the dorm refunds got done, but not all of them.”
Gandhi described this occurrence as a “perfect storm.” Even though more than half of the deposits had been refunded or applied to tuition, 300-350 people were missed in the event of workers leaving.
According to Gandhi, the new employee was going through all the deposits to see where they were and saw some that were older.
“They were going through the current year’s and that’s when they realized somebody missed that group,” Gandhi said. “They started working on those immediately too.”
Gandhi said the mistake was found around two weeks ago and the office had everybody on the issue.
“They’re finishing up and they should be done within the next day or two,” Gandhi said on Tuesday.
Many were not aware that they could receive these deposits back until they saw social media posts by students, the mass email from student affairs and individual communication from the Controller’s Office stating they have a refund waiting in Swords Hall.
“I was surprised when receiving the email because I haven’t lived in the dorms in two years,” junior elementary education major Aviva Abrams said. “I went to pick up my deposit and was told the wait would be 30 minutes.”
The deposits for students who left the dorms during the 2017-18 school year are being processed as normal.
If eligible students have graduated, then their deposits will be mailed to their permanent home address.
Gandhi said they are changing the process to prevent a similar event from happening.
“We are going to change it, so that it will go into different people along with the assistant controller, so it’s going to be not only that department but there will be a notification one level up,” Gandhi said.
Gandhi also mentioned that she has been at the university for 25 years and nothing like this has happened before. She wants to ensure that this was a one-time occurrence.
“I will guarantee you that it won’t happen again,” Gandhi said. “Once is enough.”