The outbreak of COVID-19 has created a global crisis, the likes of which most of us have not seen in our lifetime, with sudden and sweeping impacts to the health sector, the economy, supply chains, jobs, and security. The impact on Higher Education and within it, Study Abroad, is no exception.
Through the rapidly changing landscape of border closings, quarantines, and canceled flights over the past three weeks, SFS’ priority and primary commitment was the safety of our students and staff and returning our students home. Now that our students have returned home safely and our staff are secure, we are weighing the full impact this event had and continues to have for all involved.
These unprecedented circumstances have required us all to adapt, change, and respond in ways none of us could have ever anticipated. Our responsibility is to be transparent and to fulfill our commitments to students and families, our staff, and our neighbors and partners in the local communities around the world to the best of our ability. Those commitments have guided our decision making regarding our refund policies for the Spring 2020 semester, indicated below.
Faculty will be engaged throughout the remainder of the semester finishing the delivery of courses online, and students will be able to complete a full semester of credit. Thus, SFS will not be issuing any refunds for tuition for the spring 2020 semester.
ROOM & BOARD
SFS maintains long term leases and other contractual agreements and partnerships within the communities where we welcome students each semester. These communities are being impacted greatly by this pandemic and its aftermath and will feel the full brunt of the economic downturn which may follow. In this time of global crisis, it is also our responsibility to maintain our contractual commitments to these community partners and continue to honor these agreements as is reasonable. To refund Room or Board, SFS would be required to break leases and other long-term contracts with our community partners. Because of this, SFS is unable to offer a refund for Room or Board.
TRAVEL REIMBURSEMENT POLICY
In the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak, it was our singular priority to get students home in the safest and most expeditious manner possible. Each day brought new border closures, restrictions, grounded airlines, and canceled tickets. As SFS navigated these shifting variables, we recognize that some students incurred unexpected expenses in securing their travel home. SFS would like to do what we can to provide students with some financial relief. If you are one of the students who incurred unexpected expenses due to return travel home and would like to request a reimbursement, please proceed through the following process:
Airlines: First, check with your airline as many have waived change fees and rebooking fees for certain countries or within certain dates. If you are working with Advantage Travel, they will assist you in doing so.
Travel Insurance: If you have purchased travel insurance, please contact the company directly and proceed with the reimbursement protocol.
Home School: Some sending schools are providing financial assistance for change fees and waivers. Please contact your home institution directly to inquire about their policies and how to apply for reimbursement.
If you do not receive any reimbursements from the airline, insurance, or your home school, please provide SFS with the following documentation and SFS may be able to offer assistance. Please provide the following:
- A letter from your home school stating that they are not offering financial assistance for rebooking and change fees.
- A copy of the itinerary and price of your original ticket, the new ticket, and the invoice outlining the difference in cost and change fee.
- In your email, please include your name, contact information, and home mailing address.
Documentation should be submitted no later than April 30, 2020, to firstname.lastname@example.org. Once all claims are submitted, SFS will review these requests and determine what assistance may be available. SFS has a limited pool of resources and in many cases may not be able to offer a full reimbursement. We want to assure you that we are committed to doing what we can to help alleviate this difficult time for our students.