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Carolina Housing offers reduced cancellation fees to make room for transfer students

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Students return to on-campus housing at Hinton James Residence Hall on Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021.

On May 18, Carolina Housing announced that it would lower the on-campus housing contract cancellation penalty until May 31 to incentivize off-campus living for returning students. 

The penalty has been lowered to $300, which was the cancellation fee before March 31.

Originally, the cancellation fee between April 1 and July 31 was 50 percent of the fall semester rent, which would total around $1,840 for a standard double occupancy room. 

Students who applied for on-campus housing the following year received an email with the temporary policy changes. The email also said students interested in canceling their on-campus housing contract for the reduced penalty must submit a cancellation request via the MyHousing Portal by 5 p.m. on May 30.

The email sent to students did not specify the reason for the reduced fee. In January, more than 600 students were on the waitlist for on-campus housing.

Junior Suzanne Tyler said she was a bit offended by the implications of the email.

"It was clear that they decided to do that not to help students, but because they had made mistakes on their end," Tyler said. "So it was just that we're benefiting from something that they did."

Executive Director of Carolina Housing Allan Blattner said that the organization lowered the cancellation penalty back down to $300 because on-campus housing is "very popular and very full." He said on-campus living at UNC is more popular than it’s been in the past 10 years.

“We’ve seen a higher number of returning students that wanted to live with us,” Blattner said. “We’re just seeing our numbers begin to hit that point where we wanted to take this step to make sure that — I would much rather house a student that wants to live with us than someone who feels forced to live with us because the cancellation penalty is too high.”

Despite the high number of applicants for on-campus housing, Blattner said that all first-years, exchange students and returning students with an on-campus housing contract will have a room for the upcoming academic year. 

However, he said that Carolina Housing may not be able to provide spaces to all transfer students interested in on-campus housing, which is why Carolina Housing offered voluntary housing contract cancellation.

“There may be, and we’re not even sure the numbers yet, but we’re preparing some transfer students for the fact that we may not be able to offer them an on-campus spot," Blattner said. "And we’re doing everything we can to maximize the number that we can have.”

Tyler said the reduced fee benefitted her because she decided she would rather live off campus after she signed her on-campus contract.

“I realized that this off-campus living was just a better option for me, for a lot of reasons,” Tyler said. “But having already signed a contract, I was going to have to go back. So, getting the chance to do that over benefited me a lot.”

Junior Valerie Scull said she does not think the reduced fee is a strong enough incentive to cancel an on-campus housing contract.

“I thought it was completely ridiculous to not wipe the fee completely,” Scull said. “If they’re down housing, if they don’t have enough housing, what kind of incentive is it for someone to cancel the housing they’ve already been assigned, that they likely probably need as well, if they have to pay $300 to do it?”

Last fall semester, Scull canceled her on-campus contract before the first deadline and still had to pay $300. She said she thought it was ridiculous because housing had not been assigned yet.

Blattner said that so far there have been 33 contract cancellations with the reduced fee.

“We just need more off-campus housing," Scull said. "And I think that’s the root of this issue. More dorms will be open if more people can leave.”

@nataliebradin

@dailytarheel | university@dailytarheel.com

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