Staying home during the fall semester could mean a significant financial loss for some University of Maryland students who had already signed on-campus apartment leases.
Both the South Campus Commons and the Courtyard Apartments are on-campus housing that fall under a public-private partnership managed by Capstone On-Campus Management, not the university.
Grace Goodenough signed her lease in April.
"The pandemic had just started and now all of our classes are online and, again, we didn't know that in April so we don't want to live on campus anymore," Goodenough said.
While students living in dorms were allowed to terminate leases without penalty, students with leases in the on-campus apartments were not.
"Now, if we can't find someone to take our lease, we're going to be forced to pay $4,800 for the fall semester and possibly the spring when we don't even know if we're going to be there in the spring," Goodenough said.
Earlier this month, the apartments added new rules for students including requiring them to wear face masks and social distance.
"Those rules and regulations are kind of hard to enforce so, I could be following them, but maybe my neighbor in the apartment next to me isn't," Goodenough said. "I don't want to put my safety in the university's hands."
News4 spoke to numerous parents and students with the same concerns.
"How can I terminate this lease? And I get the same canned responses back from Resident Life, who says it's a private corporation - not our deal," parent Jamie Faulkner said.
Faulkner's daughter, Sarah Jackson, is paying 1,000 per month for the apartment.
"Show some type of compassion, empathy to these students and allow them to terminate their lease," parent Carmen Hughes said.
For Hughes, sending her daughter to UMD to justify paying rent is not a chance worth taking when they've already lost so much to COVID.
"We lost a grandmother. We lost an uncle, and I also lost a cousin as well," Hughes said. Their family is from Michigan.
South Campus Commons and the Courtyards are the only two public-private partnerships for on-campus housing at the university, and there are some 2,200 apartments between the two of them, according to management. All of them are filled for the upcoming school year.
News4 has reached out to Capstone On-Campus Management and is still awaiting an official comment from the company.
A spokesperson with the University of Maryland sent News4 their Resident Life's rental agreement policy and emphasized that on-campus apartments are privately managed.