University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some frequently asked questions. If you don't find the answer you need, please call our office at (413) 577-4444 or e-mail us.

Topics:
Academics | Finances | Health, Safety, and Well-Being |  Mail and Packages | Parent Involvement

Academics

The university is made up of nine schools and colleges and undergraduates are able to select from more than 80 different majors. In order to graduate from the university all students need to declare a major, maintain minimum GPA of 2.0, complete at least 120 credits, and satisfy the university's General Education requirements. Students select courses for the fall semester starting in April and courses for the spring starting in November. Instructors, Departmental/Faculty Advisors, Advising Deans, Academic Deans, the Registrar's Office, and the Learning Resource Center are among just some of the resources for students to call on with their academic questions. As parents we know you have many academic concerns as well. Below are some of the most frequently asked academic questions from UMass parents:

 How does my student know who his or her advisor is?

Undeclared students can meet with an advisor through Undergraduate Advising. To make an appointment with an advisor call (413) 545-2191.
Declared students should contact their academic department as each handles advising slightly differently. Students can also check SPIRE to contact their Academic Advisor during the school year. For more information, see Academic Advising.

 My student is having some trouble in a class, how can he or she find a tutor?

Learning Resource Center (LRC) on the 10th floor of the W.E.B. DuBois Library offers free tutoring to all university students in a wide variety of subjects. Visit the LRC website to check the tutoring schedule and learn more about their other resources.

 Will I receive grades or progress reports for my student?

Due to the Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA), grades are released only to the student. The university does not issue progress reports prior to the release of semester grades. It is each student's responsibility to keep track of their own progress by following the grading criteria set forth in each course's syllabus, which is issued during the first class meeting. Parents are encouraged to talk with their students about how they will share their grade information prior to the start of each semester.

 How can I receive proof of my student's full-time status?

Students can request an Enrollment Verification in the Student Center in SPIRE on the 'Other Academic' drop down menu. Students should select 'Enrollment Verification' and follow the instructions.

Additional Academic Resources
Find Your Student's Academic Dean
Academic Regulations
Guide to Undergraduate Programs
 

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Finances

University billing information and costs of attendance are available through the Office of the Bursar. For assistance financing your student's education Financial Aid Services is a great starting point. Here are some of the most frequently asked financial questions:

 What is FERPA?

FERPA stands for the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, a federal law also known as the Buckley Amendment. FERPA allows present or former students at educational institutions access to educational records kept on them, as well as basic protections of privacy of their records. The law applies to educational records, which are defined as those records that are directly related to a student and maintained by an educational agency or institution. The university has developed a FERPA waiver which allows students to grant third-party access to their financial and housing information. For details on how to complete the waiver, ask your student to visit the OIT website.

How do we pay the bill?

The university no longer sends paper invoices so we recommend that your student sets you up as an authorized payer in QuikPAY. Students should go to the Finances section of their Student Service Center in SPIRE and click on View/Pay Bill. Your student will enter your name and email address, then assign you a log on and a temporary password. QuikPAY will send you an email with a link in the text which will bring you to the QuikPAY site; you will enter the temporary password and select one of your choice.  In this site you can view current and previous invoices as well as make payments online. There is no charge for an e-check, but fees do apply if you use a credit card.

 When are bills posted and when are they due?

For the fall semester, billing notifications are emailed in July and bills are due in August. Notifications are sent in December for the spring semester and bills are due in January. Click here for more details.

 How do I make a deposit to my student's UCard Debit Account?

Parents can make a deposit to a UCard Debit Account online with a credit/debit card or by mailing a check to the UCard Office. For more information visit the How to Make a Deposit section of the UCard Web site.

 How do I submit scholarship information to Financial Aid?

If your student receives educational financial awards - including scholarships, grants, waivers, or educational loans - through sources other than the Financial Aid Services, you must report them. If after receiving a UMass Amherst financial aid award letter your student is granted one or more additional awards, Financial Aid Services may be required to adjust  their need-based aid. In most cases the additional aid will be applied towards your student's remaining need before loans, work-study, grant, or scholarship aid will be reduced.

 

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Health, Safety, and Well-Being

The staff in University Health Services, the Center for Counseling and Psychological Health, Disability Services, and the UMass Amherst Police Department work tirelessly to keep our students, staff, and faculty safe and well. In this section you'll find the answers to commonly asked questions about health and safety:

 What if my student gets sick while on campus?

University Health Services (UHS) is open convenient hours to serve your student with 24/7 telephone triage services available. The Triage Advice Nurse can be reached at (413)577-5229 and will help students who aren't feeling well determine whether they should care for themselves, make an appointment to be seen at UHS, go to the UHS walk-in clinic, or go to the hospital. Students who need to miss class should refer to the attendance policies for their courses and notify their instructors as soon as possible.

 If my student is sick, how will s/he get meals?

If your student is sick during the semester, Dining Services can provide a sick tray with chicken soup, gelatin, ginger ale, etc. Students should call the dining commons manager closest to their hall and tell the manager they need a sick tray. A friend will need to take the student's UCard to the dining commons and pick up the tray. A meal will be deducted from your student's meal plan.

 My student is feeling anxious/ depressed/ overwhelmed. Where can s/he get support?

The Center for Counseling and Psychological Health provides short-term counseling, crisis intervention and stabilization, behavioral medicine, support and therapy groups, medication management and an eating disorders clinic. Students can call 413.545.2337 from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m Monday-Friday for a telephone triage appointment. Emergency services are available after hours by calling (413)577-5000.

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 What is HIPAA?

HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act of 1996. HIPAA is also known as the Kennedy-Kassebaum Act. It calls for:
1. Standardization of electronic patient health, administrative and financial data;
2. Unique identifiers for individuals, employers, health plans and health care providers;
3. Security standards protecting the confidentiality and integrity of health information.
More information on patient rights, responsibilities and privacy is available here:

 What services are in place for students with learning, physical, and psychological disabilities?

Disability Services provides direct services to people with all types of disabilities. They provide information and referral on issues of accessibility, as well as training and staff development to the university community. Some of the services they provide are Access Assistants, Alternate Formats for Printed Course Materials, Alternate Types of Exams , Assistive Technology, Captioning Services, Extended Time on Exams, Modification of Graduation Requirements, Note-Taking Services, Paratransit Services, Readers/Recorded Books, Reduced Course Load, Sign Language Interpreters and Oral Transliterators, and Tape Recorders. To learn more about these and other services provided, visit their website.

 Is there a public safety department at UMass?

The UMass Amherst Police Department takes a community policing approach to public safety. The department operates 24 hours per day providing patrol, investigation, specialized and emergency response, as well as crime prevention and educational services. Officers are also a familiar presence in the residence halls, working closely with staff and security to maintain a safe environment.

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 Are there help phones available?

There are approximately 110 HELP phones located at the entrance to all residence halls and throughout the campus. The phones are yellow with blue lights for maximum visibility, and anyone can call for help at the touch of a button. In case of an emergency your student can go to the nearest HELP phone, press the red HELP button, and a police officer will be sent to that location immediately. The HELP phones can also be used to report suspicious activity, unusual behavior, or hazardous situations to the police. In addition, you may use the HELP phones for routine police business (413)545-2121 and to make local calls.

 What if my student doesn't want to walk across campus alone?

There is a free walking escort service during the academic year for all members of the UMass Amherst community and campus visitors. Walking teams of students with mobile radios are available for safe escort across campus every night from 7:00 p.m. - 3:00 a.m. To access this escort service, your student can call (413)545-2123.

 What notification systems are in place in the event of an emergency?

UMass Amherst Alerts are a combination of notifications including emergency text messages, outdoor sirens, emails, the UMass homepage, the emergency closing phone line, and local media outlines. These alert systems are used to make the campus community aware of any emergencies or conditions that pose an immediate or imminent threat.

What is MyStudentBody? As a parent can I access those resources?

MyStudentBody is an online health education course that all first-year students are required to complete, but any student can access. Parents and advocates are able to create a profile and access the resources using a special login screen and entering our school code umassaparent. Students looking to take the course log in using different instructions found here. Additional resources on student health and drug & alcohol policies are available through the Center for Health Promotion and the Student Affairs & Campus Life site.

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Mail and Packages

Even if your student prefers to communicate with friends through text messages and social networking sites, real mail from home is always a welcome surprise! Here are most frequently asked questions about how to get letters, goodies, and forgotten items into their hands:

I would like to mail something to my student in the residence halls, how do I address it?

Mail should be addressed to your student as follows:
Student Name
Name of Residence Hall, UMass Amherst
Residence Hall Street Address, Room #
Amherst, MA 01003 - (4-digit extended ZIP)
An alphabetical listing of residence halls and addresses can be found here.

 How are packages delivered to students who live on campus?

Details on package delivery are available on the Residential Life website.

 I would like to send a gift package to my student, how would I go about doing that?

University Dining Services has a variety of gift package options. More information on their Gifts From Home, including an online order form is available here.

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Parent Involvement

There are many opportunities for you to contribute to the university community and support your student at the same time. Here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions from parents concerning their involvement with UMass:

 I'm the parent of a new student, is there anything for parents to do during my student's orientation session?

Yes, New Students Orientation offers a Parents & Family Orientation that runs concurrently with each new student orientation session and parents are encouraged to attend.

 What can I do to be a university advocate?

The UMass Amherst Advocacy page shares information to help you stay informed about current issues, connect you with your legislators, and learn about opportunities to advocate for UMass.

 I would like to make a donation to the University of Massachusetts Amherst, how can I go about doing that?

Please contact the Office of Development at 866-450-UMASS, they are happy to speak with you! The Parents Fund website also has valuable information about giving to the university.

How can I get Involved?

Volunteer to help out at one of our Open Houses and our orientation programs. Parent volunteers are needed during orientations, opening weekend and Family Weekend.

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