Thousands of students at North Carolina’s public universities are about to get some of their money back as the state continues its fight against COVID-19. 

The University of North Carolina System will refund unused housing and dining payments for students forced off campus because of the pandemic, UNC interim President Bill Roper said March 30. Ninety-five percent of classes at UNC’s 17 schools are now online. Of the 65,000 students formerly living on campuses, only 3,263 remain, Roper said. 

Those students are allowed to remain because of special circumstances, he said. 

“It is our commitment to all UNC System students and parents to get this done as quickly as possible,” Roper said in an emailed statement Monday night. “It is also our obligation to get this done right. We hope to be able to announce specifics for processing and issuing refunds in the upcoming weeks.”

Roper met with chancellors Monday afternoon to discuss the issue. The system is taking things one step at a time, the interim president told members of the Board of Governors during a special meeting Monday morning.

Administrators are still uncertain how the recently enacted $2 trillion relief package from the federal government will help its students and campuses, but some assistance will apply, Roper said. 

The university is waiting for more details, he said. 

“We’re trying to be careful how we sort this out to get the maximum advantage for our students and their families.”