POWELL (WNE) — With campus facilities closed for the rest of the spring semester Northwest College is refunding its students an estimated $395,000 worth of prorated housing fees and meal plans. The college closed all campus locations, including student housing facilities, on March 15 as part of efforts to limit the spread of the new coronavirus.

At a special Monday meeting, the NWC Board of Trustees voted unanimously to authorize the room and board refunds for the rest of the semester.

“We didn’t want anyone to be homeless as a result of the decision to close the residence halls,” said NWC President Stefani Hicswa.

The college is making arrangements for students who have nowhere safe to go — mostly international students — while the rest have moved out or are in the process of doing so. However, many students had paid for their food and housing through the entire semester and didn’t have any money left while waiting for refunds.

“The college was getting a number of calls and emails from students who needed the refunds urgently because they had been displaced and needed to be able to pay for housing and food,” NWC Board President Dusty Spomer said in an email.

The Wyoming Legislature recently voted to provide all seven community colleges with operational funding — including a one-time $600,000 appropriation for Northwest College.

The NWC resolution notes this funding could be used to cover the expense of the refunds, if NWC doesn’t receive an insurance claim or other federal or state support.

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