Provident Resources Group, with more than 21,000 beds of student housing across country, has been “inundated with inquiries about the impact of COVID-19,” Steve Hicks, chairman and chief executive officer, said in an interview.

Hicks said Provident is not in the position to unilaterally decide that it can issue refunds, adding that it’s the universities that are making the decisions to close the schools, sometimes due to government guidelines.

“They’re making the decision and we would expect the university, which has a lot more resources than one student housing property, to make the refund to the students through the student’s account at that one particular campus,” Hicks said.

Hicks said any decision on refunds needs to be made in concert with its bondholders, investors and the universities.

Around $14 billion of the stimulus package passed by the Senate would go to colleges and universities as they respond to the pandemic.

It is too early to tell what relief Provident’s higher education projects might be able to obtain as a result of this legislation, Hicks said. As of Thursday afternoon, Provident’s chief legal officer and outside counsel were reviewing the bill to determine which projects might be eligible for financial assistance.

“We are focusing on which of the projects, if any, might quality for a loan or an SBA loan to assist in some of the challenges we are facing from COVID-19,” Hicks said.

Still, there will probably be some leniency on bond payments, said Steven Agran, managing director at Carl Marks Advisors, where he leads the restructuring firm’s higher education practice.

“This is really extraordinary so I think extraordinary responses will be the norm more than you’d usually expect,” Agran said.

--With assistance from Amanda Albright.