Congratulations for persevering though the Spring 2020 semester. We are in awe of how our community has united to serve and care for each other during this uncertain and unpredictable time.

Important update on CARES Act, student fees, housing and dining

To our Cougar Community,

Congratulations for persevering though the Spring 2020 semester. We are in awe of how our community has united to serve and care for each other during this uncertain and unpredictable time. We have seen what happens when we are all committed to creating the kind of place that thousands of students, faculty, staff, and alumni would be proud to call their home, their place of work, or the place where they graduated from.

On every one of our campuses, students worked to ensure their peers did not go hungry. Faculty in every one of our colleges led their peers and shared their expertise as we moved to remote teaching and learning. Staff worked diligently to ensure the safety and security of all of our campus, outreach, and extension locations across the state while moving critical programs and services on‑line to support students, faculty, and staff.

As this academic year comes to a close, we wanted to provide a few student‑focused updates to our Cougar Community. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we took the necessary time to make decisions that were aligned with our land‑grant mission with locations and services across the state.

CARES Act distributions to students across the WSU system

Congress, including members of the Washington Delegation who unanimously supported the bill, passed the Coronovirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and is providing unprecedented amounts of emergency funding to support students attending institutions of higher education during this pandemic. WSU’s Student Financial Services will be distributing $10.884 million to students who qualify for federal financial aid through direct disbursements based on enrollment, expected family contribution, and need. Additionally, eligible students can also apply for an emergency grant for exceptional circumstances.

WSU students enrolled on the Pullman, Spokane, Everett, Vancouver and Tri‑Cities campuses who are eligible for CARES Act distribution will receive communication directly from Student Financial Services beginning the week of May 4th. Students must certify that these cash grants will be used to cover food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, or childcare due to disruption in their education or hardship because of COVID‑19. Eligible students will receive between $500 and $1500 and will also be eligible to apply for an emergency grant if they are experiencing exceptional circumstances and need funds beyond the first disbursement. Detailed information about WSU’s distribution of CARES Act funding can be found online.

A few groups of students are not eligible for these funds including WSU Global students who were enrolled exclusively in online distance education, international students, and others who are not eligible for CARES Act based on guidelines. Student who are not eligible for CARES Act funding may apply for institutional emergency aid grants.

In the coming weeks, we will announce the university’s plan for the institutional portion of the CARES Act distribution.

Spring 2020 and Summer 2020 mandatory student fees across the WSU system

The university conducted an extensive review of mandatory student fees. Besides the Services and Activities Fee students pay each semester, there are other mandatory student fees depending on which WSU campus they attend. Examples of these fees include the Compton Union Building Fee, Stadium Fee, Transit Fee, and Media Fee on the Pullman campus, the Student Union Fee on the Tri‑Cities campus, as well as the Technology Fee on the Pullman and Vancouver campuses.

These fees were initiated and approved through student referendum. Students who attended WSU years ago voted to invest in a welcoming and inclusive environment for future Cougars.

Approximately $12.5 million of these fees are dedicated to annual mandatory building and facility debt payments in accordance with the referendums. The remaining amounts are dedicated to paying student and staff employees, programming, and operational costs.

As the university shifted to remote instruction starting in March, programs and activities continued remotely. Student organization advising, fitness classes, medical and counseling appointments, food pantry operations, student success trainings and workshops were offered remotely across the WSU system. Significant effort was required of both staff and student employees to transition these services. Operational expenses such as utilities and insurance are also needed to maintain buildings for when campuses are allowed to re‑open.

Based on these factors, the WSU system will not be refunding or crediting any portion of the Spring 2020 mandatory student fees. Summer 2020 mandatory student fees will continue to be charged at all of the WSU campuses as well.

Housing and dining on the WSU Pullman campus

Over one‑half of students who lived in university-owned residence halls and apartments have already received Housing and Resident Dining Accounts (RDA) refunds or credits. To date, nearly $6 million dollars has been refunded or credited to students. The remaining students will see refunds or credits on their MyWSU account by May 8, 2020. If you have questions about the amount refunded or credited, please contact hd.finance@wsu.edu.

We are exceedingly thankful for the 70 students who donated over $21,000 of their remaining RDA dollars to Cougs Feeding Cougs.

On Friday, May 1st, students who live in university-owned residence halls and apartments will receive move‑out information delivered to their @wsu.edu email accounts. Students will be able to retrieve their belongings beginning May 5 through May 31. In order to adhere to social distance guidelines provided by federal, state, and local health authorities, students must sign‑up for a specific move‑out time. Detailed instructions will be provided to students once a move‑out time has been confirmed.

Virtual town hall

Please join us for our virtual town hall tomorrow which is dedicated to addressing student-related questions including computer and internet access, grading options including pass/fail, student fees, move‑out process, and emergency financial assistance including the CARES Act. The town hall will be live‑streamed on May 1st at 11 a.m. Pacific Time at our Experience WSU website.

As you reflect on this Spring 2020 semester, we hope that you look back as we have. We know not everything went as we had dreamt or imagined. We know that events, programs, and activities we spent months planning did not happen as we expected. We know we are more grateful for things like spending time with loved ones and we are more resilient than we thought we were all those weeks ago. It is from that place of courage, that place of strength that we will emerge as One WSU as we head into the future.

And, as always, Go Cougs!

Mary Jo Gonzales
Vice President of Student Affairs

Stacy Pearson
Vice President of Finance and Administration

Bryan Slinker
Interim Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs

Kirk Schulz
President