Frequently Asked Questions

Latest updates

Surveys are designed to gather generalizable data based on the opinions of a representative sample of the student population and the University rarely does a census survey of its entire student body. In order to have the time to analyze the survey results and take into account the student perspective in the decision-making process, the survey was sent to a random sample of 17,000 students at University Park and the Commonwealth Campuses. As the data are analyzed, the Return to Campus task group will share the survey results with the Penn State community. Further, the task group is planning for future surveys as well as focus groups for students to provide the insights the University needs before returning to in-person experiences.

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In consideration of the ongoing nature and uncertain future of the coronavirus pandemic, Penn State has not yet made a decision on the status of the summer commencement ceremony. As was announced on April 15, the University is planning to deliver all courses and programming virtually through summer session II, however, the University is also preparing in case health dynamics shift and students could safely return to campuses for in-person instruction. A decision on holding an on-schedule, in-person summer commencement ceremony will be made based on guidance from government and health authorities, and in the best interest of the health and safety of graduates, their families, employees and our local communities.

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Students residing in Pennsylvania counties where stay-at-home orders have been eased or are scheduled to be eased, and who attend a campus where restrictions have been relaxed, are being emailed to schedule a move-out appointment. Students may schedule a two-hour time slot to return to their campus between May 11 and June 14. As restrictions are eased elsewhere in Pennsylvania and in other states, the University will provide additional guidance and instructions for move out to students residing in those areas. Residence halls remain closed at all Penn State locations and access is by appointment only. Student key cards will only function during the scheduled appointment date and time. Students who are unable to return to campus may also choose to have their belongings packed up and stored until the start of the fall semester, or shipped to their permanent home address. Detailed information is on Penn State News and at https://hfs.psu.edu/spring-housing-move-out-faqs.

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In consideration of the ongoing nature and uncertain future of the coronavirus pandemic, Penn State is canceling, postponing or moving to a virtual format all events on its campuses through at least June 30. This applies to all nonessential events, meetings, summer camps, youth programs and gatherings of all kinds on all Penn State campuses. Some individual event organizers may determine at this point that they will be canceling, postponing or holding virtually events after June 30. Individuals with questions about events, meetings, summer camps, youth programs and other gatherings taking place after June 30 should contact the event organizer to determine the status of the event.

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Penn State was allotted nearly $55 million from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act that was signed into law on March 27. Half of Penn State’s allocation – or approximately $27.5 million – is designated by law to be disbursed as emergency cash grants to students impacted by disruptions to campus operations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Penn State is distributing these grants via two rounds of funding. In the first round, the University will award grants up to $1,000 to more than 25,000 students, based on family income and other data from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The University also will award grants via a second round of funding that will utilize an application process to support students with eligible expenses who were not identified to receive funding during the first round.

For answers to more frequently asked questions about the emergency grants, visit https://virusinfo.psu.edu/faq/topic/federal-funding.

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Penn State, in collaboration with the Centre Region of Council of Governments and State College Borough, sent a letter to students on May 7 offering guidance on how to help maintain their health and safety, as well as those around them, as they formulate their move-out plans with the conclusion of the spring semester in accordance with guidance from Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Students are asked to make preparations ahead of time, including coordinating with their property manager and roommates to stagger move-out dates and times; arriving with cleaning supplies and personal protection; continuing to practice social distancing throughout the move-out process; minimizing move-out times; and avoiding social gatherings. Visit Penn State News for more information.

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Summer 2020

Given the continuing challenge and uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic and to protect the health of students, faculty and staff, Penn State has made the decision to extend virtual delivery of courses into the summer.

At this point, the University is planning to deliver all courses and programming virtually for the Maymester, Summer Session I and Summer Session II, through a mix of asynchronous online and synchronous remote course offerings. Grading methodology will revert to its typical form, with students receiving a letter grade for most courses. In addition, while the plan calls for online instruction for Summer Session II, the University is preparing in case health dynamics shift and students could safely return to campuses for in-person instruction. Any such decisions and related processes for welcoming students back will be made based on guidance from government and health authorities and include careful planning focused first and foremost on the health and well-being of students, faculty and staff. More information will be shared as the situation continues to evolve.

Fall 2020

University leaders will keep the community informed, and plan to provide additional updates and information by June 15 or sooner. At this time, the University remains optimistic for a fall 2020 return to on-campus learning, in line with the latest directives and guidelines from the governor and other government and public health authorities. As the pandemic unfolds by the hour and day, our top priority remains the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff and broader community. Penn State task groups are continuing to prepare for a coordinated phased return to on-campus working, learning and living for students and employees across each of the University’s campuses.

Updates on plans for each upcoming segment of the academic calendar will be provided as decisions are made, and in accordance with state and national health guidance.

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In light of Gov. Tom Wolf’s phased reopening plan for Pennsylvania, which calls for telework to continue when feasible even where other activities are set to resume, Penn State faculty and staff at all campuses who are currently working remotely should plan on continuing to do so through at least the end of May, unless otherwise advised by their supervisor or unit leadership.

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In the face of severe financial impacts to the University brought on by the global coronavirus pandemic, on April 23 Penn State President Eric J. Barron announced some salary adjustments; a 3% across-the-board cut to university budgets in the next fiscal year; and his intention to work with the Board of Trustees to freeze tuition for the 2020-21 academic year to limit student costs. Read the president’s message to the university community here.

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