FAU Housing has not considered adjusting the cancellation fee since the start of COVID-19

FAU housing contracts have not taken into consideration that students are still being affected by COVID-19 setbacks.


Eston Parker III

Photo of Heritage Park Towers.

Kizzy Azcarate, Entertainment Editor

In spite of CDC suggestions, FAU decided to have students return back to campus for the Fall 2021/Spring 2022 semester. Though the pandemic and its effects are still being felt, FAU housing has decided to have student residents sign housing contracts with no additional incentives for students regarding COVID-19.

When asked about any changes added to the FAU housing contract, Joshua Glanzer, FAU’s assistant vice president for media relations and public affairs, said, “No, not for 2021-2022 [school year].”

“However, for the Fall 2020/Spring 2021 when COVID-19 was newer, we gave students with active housing contracts the option to cancel due to COVID-19 as a reason by July 10, 2020 with no financial penalty,” said Glanzer.

Aly Gonzalez, a freshman at the time, found it difficult to cancel her housing contract for the Fall 2020/Spring 2021 school year when she had to hastily move out in the beginning of March after she had come back from Spring Break due to U.S. COVID-19 shutdown. Like other students, Gonzalez was left with the burden of paying for moving costs while she had to lose the two months of rent already paid for FAU Housing.

After numerous complaints from Gonzalez, FAU Housing partially refunded her money for the remainder of her Spring 2020 contract.

Soon after the university’s notice to move out, Gonzalez tried to get out of the contract she signed in November 2019 to live in Innovation Village Apartments for the Fall 2020/Spring 2021 school year. FAU Housing charged her the standard $300 contract cancellation fee.

“I signed in November before we knew anything,” she said. “COVID was barely a thing back in November.”

However, Glanzer said that the university was accommodating towards students who had previously signed the contract before the pandemic.

“When COVID-19 was newer, we gave students with active housing contracts the option to cancel due to COVID-19 as a reason by July 10, 2020 with no financial penalty,” said Glanzer.

This decision came after Gonzalez was forced by the Housing Appeals Committee to pay the $300 contract cancellation fee. FAU Housing fully refunded the cancellation fee to Gonzalez a few months later.

The University Press has concealed the names of this student, referred to as Kelly Sanders, and adviser to protect them from retribution.

Sanders signed for Fall 2021/Spring 2022 school year at University Village Apartments (UVA).
She submitted paperwork for her cancellation appeal within the window that would show the effects COVID-19 had on her mother’s income due to her job in the hospitality industry.

“I submitted [the cancellation appeal] for financial reasons and I provided my mother’s tax returns for 2018 and 2019 to show there was a significant income difference,” said Sanders.

Administrators from Student Affairs, Enrollment Management, and Academic Affairs comprise the Housing Appeals Committee, which oversees all housing cancellation appeals from students.

Whether for financial reasons or health concerns, the Housing Appeals Committee would not approve cancellations and their decision would be final, according to the FAU Housing contract.

Sanders’ experience left her with frustration and hopelessness until she got an adviser involved. He suggested she infom the Housing Appeals Committee that her mother’s income was also impacted due to a surgical procedure she had over the summer.

Because the Housing Appeals Committee’s decision is final, Sander’s adviser instructed her to apply again under the guise that her mother lost a significant amount of income and the surgery procedure Sander’s mother had over the summer would prevent her from receiving financial support from her mother.

“If a student is having a financial hardship due to COVID, the appeal would fall under a financial hardship instead of COVID. The student can submit an appeal and specify the reason as financial hardship and provide supporting documentation on what has changed since the time they completed their housing and returned their housing appeal,” said Glanzer.

After much back and forth correspondence between housing, Sanders, and her adviser, she was asked to submit her mother’s hospital records proving she had an operation and the recovery time it would take, as well as the 2018 and 2019 tax returns she provided the Housing Appeals Committee the first time.

The nearly two-month process ended in relief once Sanders received the email that her cancellation appeal was approved.

Sanders still had to pay the $300 cancellation fee and the $35 daily rate charge while waiting for the approval. She spent $700 to get out of her housing contract with FAU.

“If I didn’t get this resolved, I wouldn’t be able to continue my activities on campus because I would have to work and come up with money completely on my own. At that point, I would have used all my financial aid to pay for rent [for UVA] and I’d have no money and pay rent on top of the place I live now,” said Sanders.

Now living off campus, Sanders said she will be saving $1100 in rent per semester. Sanders is currently budgeting her money in order to make her December rent due to the fees she’s spent during this process.

“I’m a first-generation student so I didn’t have parents to tell me how difficult it would be to cancel my housing contract. When you move on campus, the school doesn’t say ‘once you sign one of these contracts, you can’t get out of it,’’’ said Sanders.

Editor’s Note: This story is an updated version from our October/November issue titled “On Campus and Awaiting Trial,” which you can pick up on campus or read online here.

Kizzy Azcarate is the Entertainment Editor for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, tweet her @Kizzy_kinz or [email protected]