UT Students Get Refund for Parking Permits as Classes Move to Online
By Mercedes Gonzales
Austin – University of Texas at Austin students wanted to know what to do about their parking permits after the university announced all classes will be online to prevent the spread of COVID-19, or the coronavirus. Classes resumed on March 30th after a two-week spring break.
First year computer science major Brain Villamar expected the university would move classes online and moved out of his dorm on March 13th, the same day UT Austin had its first case of the coronavirus. As of this writing, UT Austin has a total of 47 confirmed coronavirus cases, one being the UT President’s wife and 44 UT students returning from a spring break trip to Mexico.
“It’s my first year in college and I’m not even finishing like a full two semesters,” Villamar said.
Villamar had the D+ parking permit. According to the UT Parking and Transportation Services website, a D+ permit, for students with disabilities, cost $300 for the 2019-2020 school year. Parking permit cost vary depending on what type of permit a student gets. They can range from $150 to $717. Second year bilingual education major Laura Figuera bought the S permit, which lets students park in garages and cost $717.
“I wasted $700 for nothing and I can’t even like fully use them,” Figuera said.
Villamar is finishing the semester back home in Houston and Figuera had commuted from her home in Austin. Since students no longer need to be on campus, UT Parking and Transportation services is working to reimbursement all student parking permits.
“What we don’t want to happen [is] people to pay for parking while the campus is in remote status,” UT Parking and Transportation Services Director Bobby Stone said.
Students will only be charged for time they used their permit and refunded for time they didn’t use it, which will be from March 13th to when the permit expires in August. Students will get their refund through direct deposit or a check in mail. Stone said they are reimbursing thousands of parking permits.
“People could begin to see money within seven to 10 days,” Stone said.
UT Parking and Transportation gets their revenue from mainly campus events and daily rates from garages. According to their 2017-2018 annual report, UT Parking and Transportation received $19 million in revenue. They sold 13,730 student parking permits in 2017-2018. But as the number of coronavirus cases rise in Austin, Stone says UT Parking and Transportation lost event and daily revenue. They will have to manage spending and possibly delay projects.
Stone says they are also deactivating all student permits as they are reimbursing them. As UT Austin stays in remote status, UT Parking and Transportation will not be enforcing permits to allow students to park on campus if they need to without any issues. Once campus reopens, they will give students some time to buy or renew a parking permit before they restart enforcement.
“Once the campus moves from a remote status back to regular status, then any of those students who want to reactivate their permit will be given that opportunity to reactivate in the exact location that they’re parked now,” Stone said.
For both Villamar and Figuera, the reimbursement will provide extra financial security.
“At least having the refunds and to be able to help out, you know, figuring out anything that might come up,” Villamar said.
Students can contact UT Parking and Transportation through their email, [email protected], if they have questions about reimbursement or their parking permit.