Fees increase for broken housing contracts

Breaking housing contracts costs nearly twice as much as previous years.

This year, the fee for breaking a housing contract at MU has almost doubled from past years.

Fees are assessed to students who cancel their housing contracts at any point during the year, and the prices of these fees depend on the timing of the cancellation. If students cancel their contracts by May 1, they are refunded fully, but canceling between then and June 1 warrants a $100 fee. Canceling after June 1 charges the student a $200 fee, and after July 15 a $300 fee is assessed.

After this time period, students are assessed a fee that equals 40 percent of their semester's room and board, up from last year's 25 percent fee assessment.

Trevor Kraus, freshman member of Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity, said the fee assessed to him upon canceling his housing contract was more expensive than necessary.

"Obviously I don't know everything from the university's perspective and how they run their business, but that fee is ridiculous," Kraus said. "It's exorbitant and, in my opinion, way more expensive than it should be. I guarantee that with any apartment complex you go to, the fee to cancel a contract is not nearly that high."

Kraus, who moved into his fraternity's house in October, was assessed the 40 percent fee, but had it covered by Alpha Epsilon Pi.

"Basically, my fraternity just subtracted the amount I paid for the cancellation fee from my bill to live in the house," Kraus said. "Actually, it went a lot more smoothly than I expected, but it still seems ridiculous to me that the fee would be that high."

Missouri Students Association President Tim Noce said he feels the rising price of contract cancellation fees might inhibit the number of fraternity and sorority members who choose to move into their house halfway through the year and might also make it less frequent for chapters to cover the cost of cancellation fees.

"It's almost a standard practice for fraternities and sororities to cover the cost of the cancellation fee, but I worry that this increase will make it much harder if not impossible for chapters to do this," Noce said. "I fear we may see a decrease in students who choose to move in with their fraternity or sorority."

Residential Life Director Frankie Minor said having the cancellation fee is a way to maintain consistency in students who choose to live in residential halls.

"The cancellation fee essentially helps us maintain predictability with who will live in the dorms, and this helps us keep costs lower in the end," Minor said. "If we have wildly fluctuating numbers we can't guarantee lower prices."

Minor said more students are choosing to stay in residence halls through their first full year rather than moving into fraternity or sorority houses.

"More are choosing to stay in residence halls and not break their contracts, and I think a lot of this has to do with family decisions," Minor said.

Comparatively, MU's cancellation fees are much lower than most Big 12 institutions' fees, Minor said.

"We're actually on the lower end among Big 12 institutions," Minor said. "At University of Texas and Texas A&M University the fee is 100 percent, and Iowa State is 80 percent.”

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