Campus Life

Campus Life

Updated July 9, 2020

2020 Reopening Plan: Campus Life

Go to FAQs about Campus Life

Students choose to attend UMass Amherst not only for the quality of the faculty and the academic programs, but also for the immersive living and learning experience, which offers a wealth of enriching co-curricular and extra-curricular opportunities shared among a diverse group of peers.

walking outside southwest residential areaAs a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the university is now balancing our immersive residential experience with the health and well-being of the entire campus community. Given this situation, campus life will be a different experience in the fall, with all members of the community playing an important role in mitigating the infection and spread of the virus.

Students facing hardship resulting from COVID-19 should contact the Dean of Students Office

The UMass Agreement

All students coming to campus will be required to sign The UMass Agreement, a commitment to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on our campus. This agreement emphasizes each student’s role in actively protecting the health and safety of every member of our campus and local communities. 

Students are encouraged to limit their travel to the local area. Students who travel outside of a certain mileage range will be required to report their travel and possibly quarantine upon return.

The following portions of the Code of Student Conduct allows for adjudication of alleged violations: 

  • The university reserves the right to take action based on any student conduct, regardless of location.
  • Existing applicable policies:
    • Reckless behavior
    • Failure to comply
    • Disruptive behavior
    • Violation of university policies and regulations

Due to the serious impact of breaches to public safety, students can be removed from campus and will continue their education remotely, until their case is completed.

New Students Orientation and Transition Events

New Student Transitions is exploring options for in-person gatherings and activities for small groups. Incoming students will continue to meet in person and virtually with the orientation groups formed over the summer. These transition groups will work to help new students adjust to university life, and will be staffed by resident assistants (RAs), peer mentors (PMs), and others.

  • RAs and PMs will be available online and will be part of the transition for first-year students.
  • Residential Life anticipates creating micro-communities. First-year students will be assigned to small groups who live together in a residential community. These student groups will explore campus together to find their classes and locate campus resources, and participate in weekly activities to assist them in getting to know each other and transition successfully to campus.
  • Graduate student orientation will be available asynchronously on the Graduate School website the first week of August. 
  •  Information about asynchronous and synchronous TA training sessions will also be available on the website by the first week of August. 

Residential Life

Residential Life is working to accommodate as many students as possible in the room selection process. It has surveyed students about their willingness to live with a roommate and will make every effort to create as many doubles as our occupancy guidelines allow. The university will confirm the process for room assignments after July 1, 2020.

Residential Academic Programs (RAPs)

  • RAP housing will be confirmed when assignments are released. In most cases, RAPs will remain in the designated residence hall, but it is possible some may be relocated.
  • RAP courses: If a student held a spot in a RAP and is enrolled in the affiliated RAP course, they can remain in the RAP course even if they are not living on campus.
  • With regard to roommates, RAP students will follow the same process outlined for all students.

The Move-In Process

The residence hall move-in process will be spaced out over a multi-day period with very few early arrivals.

  • Two family members or helpers per student will be allowed, and all move-in participants must wear a face covering and gloves. Students will be directed to pack much less for their residence hall room and to estimate for 12 weeks of residency rather than the whole year.
  • Additional details about fall move-in will be shared as soon as possible.

Life in the Residence Halls

Although residence hall living will look a bit different than it has in the past, we are committed to providing an experience that builds a sense of belonging within our community. Final plans are still being developed and include the following:

  • Bathroom cleaning schedules will be managed very differently, including frequent deep cleaning, established bathroom schedules, and posted approved occupancy numbers.
  • Pedestrian flow will change to minimize contact, with students required to follow directives for walkways, stairwells, and lounges, and to abide by occupancy restrictions on elevators.
  • No guests are allowed until further notice. A guest is defined as someone who does not live in the residence hall. Two family members or helpers can help with move-in and move-out.
  • Students will experience limited face-to-face contact with staff and peers.
  • Staff will only meet with individuals or small groups; however, they will maximize virtual contact with students.
  • Staff support will be on hand for 24/7 operation of the residence halls, including availability of both facilities and residence education staff.
  • Security desks will be staffed.
  • Services and Service Desk operations will be adjusted. Students should only order essential packages for delivery, such as books and medicine.
  • If students have requested fall on-campus housing and are notified that they are not eligible for fall on-campus housing, a plan will be developed to assign on-campus housing for the spring semester. Students who are notified that they are not eligible for fall on-campus housing should only pursue off-campus housing if they plan to live off campus for the entire academic year.

 International Students: First-Year and Domestic Exchange

  • If a first-year international student is waiting for a VISA, the university will provide on-campus housing when they are able to travel to campus later in the fall.
  • Visiting international students enrolled at the university from other colleges via domestic exchange who can come to campus are eligible for on-campus housing.

Remote Learning

Remote learning is new for most students. The university will offer regular online workshops about successful remote learning as part of the Student Success Toolkit Series. The Learning Resource Center (LRC) will continue to provide supplemental instruction for the context of remote learning. Additionally, instructors are engaged in teaching and learning resources to best deliver remote courses.

  •  For fall 2020, the Five College Consortium will be restricted to enrollment in fully remote courses at each of the campuses. 

Student Engagement and Leadership

stairsStudent Engagement and Leadership will provide quality opportunities for student involvement. Activities and programs will create balance with the rigor of academic pursuits. There will be restrictions on traditional student group activities and programming due to federal, state and university guidelines. Small, in-person meetings and gatherings will be limited, with increased use of virtual platforms for events and meetings.

  • Staff will continue to advise, train, and support students involved in Registered Student Organizations (RSOs). Staff will be available by appointment only for face-to-face meetings, and all meetings must follow current social distancing guidelines. Most event planning, training, and RSO support can take place remotely through Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or other formats.
  • The university is still evaluating whether student-run businesses can operate in the fall.
  • All First Amendment rights will be supported by the university with an emphasis on working with student organizers to educate, strategize, and execute COVID-19 safety protocols to mitigate spread of the virus.
  • Greek Life recruitment will be conducted. Most, if not all, chapter programming will be held remotely. Directors and house corporation representatives have been meeting regularly with the university to review and revise house and chapter operations so they are in line with public health. This group is examining occupancy, health precautions, move-in processes, and other aspects of day-to-day operations.
  • UMass Athletics is working closely with the NCAA, state, and university authorities to complete plans for programming this fall. Decisions regarding spectators at sporting events have not yet been made.

Off-Campus Student Life

  • Given the early start date for the fall semester, if a student’s lease does not begin until September 1, 2020 the student should contact their faculty about missing face-to-face classes for the first two weeks to make needed academic accommodations.
  • The university will provide contact tracing, academic support, health services, and counseling services to all students who contract COVID-19, both on and off campus. However, UMass will not provide off-campus students with on-campus isolation and quarantine space.

Cultural and Identity Centers

Cultural Centers and affinity spaces, including the Stonewall Center, Veterans Resource Center, Office of Religious and Spiritual Life, and Men and Masculinities Center, will be open in accordance with public health guidelines for social distancing. All Advocacy, Inclusion, and Support programs will continue to provide programs and services through a mix of in-person and virtual formats.

Disability Support Services

Disability Services will work with students to put accommodations in place before and during the first few weeks of the semester. Students are encouraged to expedite this process by registering with Disability Services between July 1 and August 1 via online registration.

Services available include working with students who need a residence hall room and those who need accommodations due to the shift to remote learning.

To register with Disability Services:

  1. Submit this intake form online.
  2. Scan documentation to Box at UMass and share with notify@admin.umass.edu.
  3. Students will receive a confirmation email to set up an appointment.
     

Wellness Support Services

Counseling

The Center for Counseling and Psychological Health (CCPH) is in the process of developing special services for students during this challenging time. To ensure safety and accessibility, CCPH will continue to offer teletherapy throughout the fall 2020 semester. Additionally, students will have daily opportunities to speak with a counselor for both urgent and routine concerns. For the most up-to-date information, visit the CCPH website.

Additional virtual opportunities will be offered to cultivate healthy habits and develop mental health and wellbeing strategies, including the following:

  • Koru Mindfulness Course (free): Koru Mindfulness offers an introduction to mindfulness in everyday life. In this free, four-session course open to all students, you will learn the skill of mindfulness and build the habit of using it on a regular basis. Beyond simply decreasing your stress, this course offers an approach for finding greater satisfaction in your daily life.
  • Positivity and Relaxation Training (1-credit course): This nine-week program, based out of the Benson Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine, helps participants develop a self-care routine to manage stress, improve their outlook, and enhance quality of life. It teaches participants a variety of mind-body practices and self-care interventions.
  • Peer Health – Educational Workshops in RAPS: These one-hour workshops are delivered to first- year students on wellbeing via peer health coaches. They serve as an entry to other wellbeing opportunities and trainings.

Recreation

Campus Recreation will take a phased approach to reopening, with services, activities, events, and access to facilities dependent on restrictions in place during the fall. We are committed to offering creative online and in-person ways for students to remain physically active. Possibilities include outdoor group fitness to allow a greater numbers of participants while maintaining physical distancing guidelines. We will stream fitness classes live through IM Leagues and offer special online tournaments and challenges. 

The Recreation Center will be open and activities that comply with public health guidelines will be allowed. Safety measures will include capacity restrictions; elimination of activities that require physical person-to-person contact or touching the same equipment without sanitizing (e.g., pick-up basketball); limits to pool usage; and restriction of locker room use.

It is unlikely that Club Sport teams will travel in the fall. We will await guidance on best practices from organizations such as the National Intramural and Recreation Sport Association to determine these decisions. Workouts and team activities that adhere to safety guidelines for the campus will be encouraged.

The Mount Ida Campus

Students who either do not have access to the main campus in Amherst or are seeking a residential option beyond the main campus may apply for housing on the Mount Ida Campus in Newton, Mass. All health and safety protocols on the main campus will be in effect in Newton, but the total residential population will be limited by available housing to less than 500 students. All courses beyond essential face-to-face courses for on-site programs (e.g., Veterinary Technology) will be offered remotely. For more information, visit the Mount Ida Campus website.

Center for Early Education and Care (CEEC)

The CEEC hopes to reopen in mid-July, though no official date has been set. When the date is finalized, CEEC will contact families and update the community.

The center will follow all state, local, and university guidelines for child care centers, including extensive cleaning and enhanced health and safety protocols. Parents and families will receive guidance on new policies and procedures in advance of the center’s opening.

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Campus Life

If someone is not an on-site employee, can they come to campus to gather materials from their workplace?

Yes. Employees can certainly come to campus to retrieve items from their offices or other work locations. This is an individual choice. They should use social distancing practices while on campus.

What is the University’s policy regarding gatherings and events on campus?

All on-campus activity, including gatherings and events, is severely limited, and most students and employees are no longer on campus. On March 23, Governor Charlie Baker issued an order prohibiting gatherings of over 10 people.

  • Regardless of size, all external events (with outside vendors and non-UMass guests) are canceled.
     
  • All gatherings – meetings or other events – with more than 10 participants scheduled to be held on campus must be held virtually, postponed or canceled.
     
  • Attendance at all off-site events with more than 10 participants is prohibited. Virtual participation is allowed.
     
  • Regardless of whether an event or gathering falls within this scope all persons are urged to maintain social distancing (six feet away from other people) whenever possible and to continue to wash hands, utilize hand sanitizer and practice proper respiratory etiquette.

What strategies will be used to mitigate the spread of COVID-19?

Seven core actions are being implemented: required education for all; daily self-screening for all; enhanced cleaning; increased testing and tracing capabilities; arranging for high-risk individuals to study and work remotely; increased mental health support; and use of face coverings and physical distancing.

When I arrive on campus, what preventive public health measures will be in place?

Key prevention measures include:

  • Students will be required to make a promise to respect social distancing and other public health practices.
  • Face coverings are required in classrooms, workspaces and all other common areas, both indoors and outdoors where social distancing is not possible.
  • Appropriate barriers — plexiglass and other similar materials — will be established in high-volume areas.
  • Sanitation and cleaning will be enhanced in buildings throughout the campus, and adequate hand sanitizer products will be made available in all common spaces (lobbies, lounges, academic learning centers and classrooms).
  • Residence halls, workplaces, meeting rooms and research laboratories will have modified occupancy.

What is the Daily Screening?

Faculty, staff and students must conduct symptom self-monitoring every day before coming to campus or leaving their residence hall room. Students (on or off campus) will be required to use the COVID-19 symptom checklist through University Health Services’ secure patient portal (Medicat Connect). Faculty and staff can use the My UMass app.

What happens if a student or their friends test positive for COVID-19?

All students living on campus are required to have an isolation and quarantine plan. For students who can travel in a private vehicle, we strongly recommend isolation and quarantine in the comfort of your own home. For students living on-campus who cannot travel home, the university has set aside dedicated isolation and quarantine space. Those students will be provided food and essential items.

All students living off campus will be strongly encouraged to have an isolation and quarantine plan. The university will provide support services in your off-campus location or at your home. The university will not provide on-campus isolation and quarantine space.

What support do students get if they are in isolation or quarantine?

UMass is committed to supporting all students during any required isolation and quarantine. This includes contact tracing, academic support, health services and counseling services. All students in isolation and quarantine, both on- and off-campus, will receive a daily wellness call.

Will residence halls reopen?

(Updated July 9, 2020) Yes, UMass Amherst will reopen as a residential campus. Testing and social distancing protocols will be in place, and we will house a substantial number of students. A combination of assignment styles will be available. A no-guests-allowed policy will be enforced to maintain best social distancing practices.

How will face-to-face instruction be conducted?

The occupancy of classrooms will be modified to maintain social distancing, including assigned seating where appropriate. Before the start of each class, students and faculty must wipe down their chairs and any other commonly touched surfaces. Students are required to wear face coverings. There is no eating or drinking in class. An educational video is being produced that will detail the public health measures in place for classrooms and laboratories.

How will you reduce density in classrooms?

Classrooms and study spaces will have diagrams depicting the reduced seating capacity for each space, including designated areas for instructors and required space between students to ensure appropriate social distancing. Room locations for some courses may be reassigned to meet public health standards. Signs will be posted to explain appropriate ways to enter and exit, as well as reminders about preventive health practices.

How will meals be served?

UMass Dining operations will be modified to meet new state requirements for cleaning, social distancing, customer limits and modified indoor seating. More than 30 campus locations will be revamped. The plan includes new grab-and-go sites, outdoor dining tents and mobile ordering at some retail locations. To protect public health, buffet-style service will be prohibited.

What kind of campus events will be held this fall?

Social distancing is the best defense against the spread of COVID-19, so the focus will be on providing a wide variety of virtual events. Co-curricular programming will be virtual and inclusive of remote students. Large events are currently prohibited in Massachusetts, affecting Registered Student Organizations, athletics, the performing arts and other activities. As Massachusetts continues its phased reopening, some restrictions may be lifted.

What will be the mix of remote and in-person classes?

A majority of the fall 2020 curriculum will be fully remote, with essential courses offered in-person. Some students who return to campus may have a fully remote curriculum, a factor they should consider in their decision to return. The university’s priority is to provide students with a high-quality educational experience that enables them to continue their academic progress with minimal delays or disruptions.

What is face-to-face instruction?

Courses that have been designated by colleges and departments as face-to-face-only and essential for delivery in the fall will be offered face-to-face. These include labs, studios and performance courses that are required for degree pathways, licensure or accreditation. To ensure social distancing, some face-to-face courses may have students attending on alternate days and learning remotely on other days, as determined by the instructor.

What is remote instruction?

These are courses with no face-to-face instruction.Technology such as Zoom and Moodle will help engage students and deliver the curriculum, with a combination of synchronous engagement (designated class meeting times) and asynchronous engagement (student learning occurring on their timeline). Faculty will make accommodations for students for whom synchronous engagement is difficult (for example, international students or those in other times zones).

How will graduate-level courses be taught?

All graduate-level courses (600-700-level) will be offered remotely unless identified essential by colleges or departments. Some graduate programs may offer their entire curriculum remotely. Dissertation and thesis defenses will be conducted remotely. Questions about registration and enrollment should be directed to the Graduate School’s student service center, and international graduate students should contact the International Programs Office with questions related to visas, travel and employment.

What will be different about classrooms and class schedules?

Classroom capacities will be limited to adhere to social distancing guidelines. Additional sections of courses may be needed to reduce class sizes. Course schedules may be adjusted to increase time between classes, and start and end times may be staggered to reduce interactive foot traffic on campus. Students will be encouraged to be patient and flexible regarding classroom assignments and course schedules.

What if I choose not to return to campus?

Students who have an underlying medical condition or feel unsafe returning to campus and have face-to-face or face-to-face plus blended courses in their fall schedule should meet remotely with their advisor so their fall schedule can be adjusted to only include fully remote courses. Students who are seeking a residential experience but are uncomfortable returning to the Amherst campus have the option of applying for housing on the Mount Ida Campus in Newton, Mass., while taking courses remotely.

Will I have access to the UMass Libraries?

Yes, the Libraries are developing a phased plan for restoring in-person services and onsite access to collections. Prior to reopening library facilities, on-site staff will provide access to materials through its Library Express service, and scanning some materials.

How will academic advising and faculty office hours be provided?

All academic advising will be performed remotely, either by phone or through use of another platform such as Zoom, unless both the student and advisor agree to meet in a socially distanced way. All faculty office hours for students in their courses, advising or other consultative purposes will be performed remotely. Advisors will also provide guidance and processes via their college websites. Students can find their college academic advising contact listed in their SPIRE Student Center.

How will academic support be provided to students?

All of the Learning Resource Center’s academic support options will be offered online. Students will have the option of tutoring by appointment online as well as drop-in tutoring online for quick, in-the- moment questions. Students can also attend virtual supplemental instruction (SI) sessions online. Virtual SI sessions will also be available via cloud recordings so students can watch them on their own schedule if they can't attend the virtual sessions. Student success study skills and time management workshops will be offered throughout the semester via Zoom and other online platforms. 

Will study abroad be available this fall?

Study abroad may be an option for the fall. There are a number of variables including government travel warnings and severely reduced flight options. Students who want to keep the study abroad option open for the fall should maintain close contact with their education abroad advisor at the International Programs Office and follow instructions in a timely fashion.

Will remote learning be an option for international students?

Yes, international students can study remotely. There are no U.S. immigration regulations that preclude this option.

Will you still be having winter/spring semester abroad in 2021?

Most likely. Students should maintain close contact with their education abroad advisor at the International Programs Office and follow instructions in a timely fashion.

Is living on the Mount Ida Campus an option for some students?

Yes, students who either do not have access to the main campus or who are seeking a residential option beyond the main campus may apply for housing on the Mount Ida Campus in Newton, Massachusetts. All health and safety protocols on the main campus will be in effect in Newton, but the total residential population will be limited by available housing to less than 500 students. All courses beyond essential face-to-face courses for on-site programs (e.g., Veterinary Technology) will be offered remotely. Get more information about housing on the Mount Ida Campus.

What is the “UMass Agreement”?

As adults and good citizens, we believe our students will rise to the occasion as we educate them about the risks of COVID-19 in our setting. All students returning to campus will be required to sign the “UMass Amherst Community Agreement: A Personal Commitment to Protect the Health and Safety of Our Community." Students must sign the agreement by July 24.

This social contract emphasizes each student’s commitment to actively protect the health and safety of every member of our campus and local communities. The Code of Student Conduct allows for adjudication of alleged violations, and students can be removed from campus and will continue their education remotely until their case is completed.

When will I know if I can keep my room assignment?

After July 1, Residential Life will communicate with new students, transfers and returning students regarding their eligibility to live on campus. Additional information about housing may be found at https://www.umass.edu/living/your-housing/frequently-asked-questions.

If I cancel my housing assignment for the fall, can I live on campus in the spring?

Yes, the university will give students who cancel their fall 2020 assignment an opportunity to select an assignment for spring 2021, pending any changes in campus plans and availability of space. Additional information about housing may be found at https://www.umass.edu/living/your-housing/frequently-asked-questions.

What will fall move-in be like?

The residence hall move-in process requires reservations and will occur over a multi-day period with few early arrivals. Two helpers will be allowed and all move-in participants must wear a face covering and gloves. When packing, students should take into account the shorter, 12-week fall residency period.

What will life be like in the residence halls?

Residential Life anticipates creating online micro-communities. Plans include the following:

  • Students will experience limited face-to-face contact.
  • Pedestrian flow will change with students required to follow specific routes for walkways and lounges. Elevator occupancy will be restricted.
  • Staff will only meet with small groups.
  • Bathrooms will receive frequent deep cleaning and will have posted occupancy limits.

Will I be able to connect with Residence Hall staff?

Yes, resident director (RDs), resident assistants (RAs) and peer mentors (PMs) will be available online and will be part of the transition for first-year students.

Will residence hall security and other services be in place?

Yes, Residence Hall security desks will be staffed. However, Residence Hall Services and Service Desk operations will be adjusted. It is recommended students only order essential packages for delivery, such as books and medicine.

Will there be an in-person orientation or Welcome Week?

New Student Transitions is exploring options for in-person gatherings and activities for small groups. Incoming students will continue to meet in person and virtually with the orientation groups formed over the summer. These transition groups will work to help new students adjust to university life, and will be staffed by resident assistants, peer mentors and others.

Are student guests and visitors allowed in residence halls?

To deter the spread of COVID-19, no guests are allowed in residence halls until further notice. A guest is defined as someone who does not live in the residence hall. Two family members or helpers can help with move-in and move-out.

Will students be allowed to travel?

Students are encouraged to follow social distancing guidelines and limit their travel to the local area. Students who travel outside of a certain mileage range will be required to report their travel and possibly quarantine upon return.

Will there be hourly jobs for students on campus?

At this time it is difficult to know how many student hourly jobs will be available. We will seek to provide as many employment opportunities as circumstances permit, but it is likely fewer jobs will be available than in recent years.

Will clubs be able to meet in the fall?

(Updated July 7, 2020) RSOs and student groups will be able to meet in accordance with established social distancing, occupancy, and group-size guidelines. We expect that many, if not most, RSO and group meetings will take place virtually.

How will Greek Life function?

Greek Life recruitment will be conducted. Most, if not all, chapter programming will be held remotely.

Will the Craft Center and Makerspace be open?

The Craft Center will be open in a manner that adheres to safety measures. Information about the All-Campus Makerspaces can be found on the ACMS website.

Will UMass Athletics teams compete in the fall?

This is yet to be determined. UMass Athletics is working with the NCAA, conference offices and Massachusetts officials to assess what intercollegiate athletic sports will be played and whether fans may attend games.

What recreation will be available?

The Recreation Center will be open for activities that comply with health guidelines. Safety measures may include population restrictions, elimination of activities that require person-to-person contact or touching shared equipment, restriction of pool use, and restriction of locker room use. Outdoor group fitness will allow a greater numbers of participants while maintaining physical distancing. Fitness classes will be streamed through IM Leagues, and special online tournaments and challenges will be offered.

Can sports clubs travel in the fall?

Workouts and team activities that adhere to safety guidelines will be encouraged. It is unlikely given state regulations and social distancing guidelines that sports clubs will be traveling in the fall.

Can I meet with a counselor?

The Center for Counseling and Psychological Health (CCPH) is in the process of developing special services for students. To ensure safety and accessibility, CCPH will continue to offer teletherapy throughout the fall 2020 semester. Additionally, students will have daily opportunities to speak with a counselor for both urgent and routine concerns. Visit the CCPH website for the latest updates.

When will the child care center be available?

The Center for Early Education and Child Care (CEED) hopes to reopen in mid-July, though no official date has been set. When the date is finalized,  CEED will contact families and update the community. CEED will follow all state, local and university regulations for child care centers, including extensive cleaning and enhanced health and safety protocols.

How do I accelerate approval of accommodations from Disability Services?

Disability Services will work with students to put accommodations in place in advance of and during the first few weeks of the semester. Students can expedite this process by registering with Disability Services between July 1 and Aug. 1 via the online registration.

Will the campus bus service be operating?

Yes, bus routes will be in service. Currently, PVTA is running a modified schedule. Detailed plans for the fall are under development. Visit UMass Transit for details. All passengers must wear a face covering while on board PVTA vehicles..

What is the process for reopening research and libraries?

UMass Amherst is reopening research labs, onsite library services and access, and other facilities for research and creative activities based on the state plan and requirements for Reopening Massachusetts. This reopening is taking place in stages, as the university certifies that the Sector Specific Safety Standards for Laboratories and Office Spaces are met. Reopening requires Research and Library Operating Plans proposed by faculty and approved by departments and deans, in coordination with the office of Research and Engagement.

Will I have access to the UMass Libraries?

Yes, the Libraries are developing a phased plan for restoring in-person services and onsite access to collections. Prior to reopening library facilities, on-site staff will provide access to materials through its Library Express service, and scanning some materials.

Will there be a tuition freeze for Massachusetts residents?

The cost of a UMass Amherst education includes tuition and required fees, with additional room and board charges for students who live on campus. Tuition will be set by the Board of Trustees this summer, but system President Marty Meehan has announced that he will recommend to the board a tuition freeze for in-state undergraduate students at academic year 2019-20 rates for the upcoming 2020-2021 academic year.

Will tuition be adjusted because some instruction is delivered remotely?


Tuition will not be altered based on the mode of instruction. Courses that will be offered remotely will be of the same caliber and quality, taught by the same outstanding faculty as those taught face-to-face. The cost to provide instruction (faculty salaries, advising, etc.) does not change based on the mode of instruction. In some cases, the cost of providing remote instruction is actually higher than in-person instruction, as a result of the technological resources required. Students will be provided the same resources and support services, such as the Learning Resource Center and academic advising, regardless of modality.

Will financial aid be increased due to the difficult situation now faced by many families?

(Updated July 7, 2020) For students whose financial situation has changed, we do have an appeals process. Forms for making your appeal are available on the Financial Aid Services website at https://www.umass.edu/umfa/forms

When will financial aid awards for 2020-21 be posted?

Posting is expected to begin in early July on student SPIRE accounts. Students should monitor their SPIRE To Do List to make sure that all required To Do’s are completed. Once we begin awarding in early July, we’ll continue to award weekly as new FAFSAs come in and as students complete their To Do Lists.

Will I be charged for room and board if I choose not to return to campus?

Students who opt not to return to campus for fall 2020 will not be charged for room and board, which accounts for nearly half of the total cost for a full-time, in-state residential student.

How can a student defer a semester?

(Updated July 7, 2020) New students with extenuating circumstances (a health crisis, financial hardship) can apply for a deferral for one semester. In most cases, new students who choose to postpone entering UMass will need to reapply for entry in a future semester. 

Continuing students can take a leave of absence by completing the End of Term Withdrawal section in Spire. Advising conversations about spring course selection for continuing students will begin in late October. Academic advisors and Financial Aid staff can assist students as they decide about changing plans for degree completion.

How do I know if my course will be face-to-face or remote?

You can find if your course will be taught face-to-face on campus this fall or be fully remote by looking at your Student Center in SPIRE. In the Student Center section, each course of the Fall 2020 schedule will either have a building and room location identified for essential face-to-face courses, or will have a “Fully Remote Class” designation for courses that will be taught remotely. 

In your SPIRE shopping cart or when looking to add courses, you will also be able to see the instructional modality of all courses in the “Room” field , with a building and room location identified for face-to-face courses or “Fully Remote Class” indicated for remote teaching. 

The day and time of each course will also be indicated in the Student Center. 

At the end of the fall semester, will I need to completely move out of my residence and turn in my key?

(Updated July 7, 2020) Yes. The University needs to be able to clean and sanitize all Residence Hall space at the conclusion of the Fall 2020 semester. This includes the event of an unplanned, early closure due to COVID factors.

 

As an incoming student, I won’t be able to determine whether my courses will be remote or face-to-face before the university’s housing deadline. Will I be able to cancel my preference application at a later date without penalty?

Yes, any first-year or transfer student who decides after the July 7 residential life deadline that they would like to take their remote courses while living off campus can email living@umass.edu to request a cancellation of their preference application. They can do this for free through July 30 at 5 p.m. Students who cancel after July 30 at 5 p.m. and before they check into their assignment will be subject to the $200 New Student Cancellation Fee. Students who check into their assignment will be subject to the $500 cancellation fee and the Rent Refund Schedule. Additional information about housing may be found at https://www.umass.edu/living/your-housing/frequently-asked-questions.

Why did all class times change?

As of July 2, all original course times are reinstated in SPIRE. Previously, adjustments were made as we considered how to best allow for classrooms to be cleaned. After further safety evaluation, and having heard concerns about lengthy days for students and faculty, the original schedule was reinstated.

 

 

Are decisions about in person vs. remote classes final as of now?

Yes, decisions have been finalized within academic departments about face-to-face vs. fully remote classes.

 

What type of foods will be available without buffet-style dining? Will the meals be nutritional?

UMass Dining will offer a wide variety of menu items across campus, both in the Residential Dining Commons and the Retail locations. Students will enjoy local, healthy and sustainable menu items served in a safe and socially distant manner, 7a.m. to midnight, seven days a week. Menu items all be staff served. Self-service menu items will not be offered at this time. Buffet style and customized dishes will be available. All menu items are labeled with allergens and nutritionals. Students can also visit umassdining.com or the UMass Dining mobile app for nutritional information.   

Will RAs/PMs be returning to campus?

Yes. Residential Life will be in contact with RAs and PMs to discuss plans to return to campus.

Will on-campus housing be guaranteed to out-of-state students who decide not to live on campus during the fall semester, but wish to return in the spring?

There will a spring housing selection process for those who choose not to live on campus in the fall. Space will be determined by availability and occupancy guidelines in effect for spring 2021.

Will any assistance be provided to students who already signed a lease for an off-campus apartment and would now like to cancel that lease?

Students can consult the Student Legal Services Office for information and assistance in understanding their legal options related to leases and landlord-tenant relationships.

Will graduate assistantships be offered during the fall semester?

Many graduate assistantships have already been offered and accepted for the fall semester. Students in search of graduate assistantships can check the employment opportunities page on the Graduate School website.

Will students in a RAP be guaranteed housing in the spring?

Students in a RAP who opt out of fall housing will be treated like all other students who have made the same decision and can apply for spring housing. However, the university cannot guarantee they will receive the same housing assignment. Housing selection in the spring will be determined by what the federal and state guidelines are for de-densifying campus housing.

Will students from out of state need to self-quarantine?

On July 1, 2020, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts issued new travel restrictions instructing travelers arriving to Massachusetts to self-quarantine for 14 days. Travelers from Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, New York, and New Jersey are exempt from these restrictions. The university is closely monitoring these travel restrictions and how they may impact students arriving for the fall semester. Additional guidance for students arriving from impacted locations will be provided later in July.

If a student living on campus gets infected, will the student’s parents be asked to pick them up and bring them home?

If a student’s parent is able to come to campus to pick them up, that is our recommendation so the student can isolate in the comfort of their home. If a parent cannot pick up their student, the university has set aside dedicated isolation and quarantine space.

In the past, the commuter exemption for first-years was 40 miles. This year, are you being more flexible? (For example, a first-year who lives 80 miles away, and has once-a-week face-to-face class.) Can they commute?

Yes. We are in the process of updating the website to indicate that we are not requiring first year students to live on campus.  They can commute from any distance.

Will students have access to common areas or cooking facilities in residence halls?

 Yes, but we will not be able to constantly clean those areas, so students need their own cleaning supplies for kitchens.  Common spaces will be cleaned and sanitized daily, but not continuously as they are used by residents.

If a student was offered a spot in the honors dorm, will staying home and remote learning affect their spot for the spring semester

Yes, but the university cannot guarantee any specific return to a fall assignment since all students were invited back to campus and we must integrate social distancing into residence halls. Commonwealth Honors College students will have priority for Commonwealth Honors College Residential Community spaces for spring, but the university cannot guarantee they will have the same assignment.

Are single rooms the same price as doubles?

Because our final plans for fall 2020 allow for full occupancy, we have not adjusted housing costs.Single rooms will be billed at the single room rate, which is slightly higher than the standard shared room rate. Room rates are set by the Board of Trustees, and though prices have not yet been set for fall 2020, room rates for 2019-2020 should give you a sense of the typical cost for each room type.

I wish to cancel my Fall 2020 assignment. What do I do?

Current Students: Current students are able to cancel their assignment at any time by emailing living@umass.edu and requesting a cancellation of their fall 2020 assignment. In your email, please include your student ID as well as the building and room number of the assignment you are canceling. You can cancel without penalty by July 12 at 11:59 p.m. 

New Students:  New students who know that they are not planning to live on campus for fall 2020 can cancel their preference application in SPIRE by navigating to Main Menu>Residential Life>Preference Application through Tuesday, July 7 at noon.  After July 7 at noon, new students can cancel their assignment with no fee until July 30 at 5 p.m. by emailing living@umass.edu and requesting a cancellation of their preferences. 

If I cancel my Fall 2020 assignment will there be a cancellation fee?

Current Students:  Current students can cancel their Fall 2020 assignment for NO FEE through July 12 at 11:59 p.m.  After this time, we will return to the normal cancellation fee schedule:

  • Students who contact our office to cancel between July 13 and July 31 at 5:00 p.m. will be subject to the $400 Cancellation Fee Schedule
  • Students who cancel from July 31 at 5 p.m. through opening week will be subject to the $500 Cancellation fee schedule.

New Students:  After July 7 at noon, new students can cancel their assignment with no fee until July 30 at 5 p.m. by emailing living@umass.edu and requesting a cancellation of their preferences.  Students who contact Residential Life to cancel after July 30 at 5 p.m. will be subject to the $200 New Student Cancellation Fee. 

I canceled my Fall 2020 Assignment. Will I be able to move-in to that assignment for the Spring?

Students who cancel their fall 2020 assignment will have an opportunity to select an assignment for spring 2021 as long as the residence halls are permitted to remain fully occupied.

Since all students have been invited to return for fall 2020, we are not able to guarantee students who choose to cancel will receive their fall assignment if they return for spring

I was assigned to a quad/economy triple and no longer have an assignment. What are my options?

In order to meet social distancing guidelines, one resident was unassigned from the economy triple and quads.

Students will have two options for returning to campus:

  • Pull-In: Pull-In will be available June 29 through Friday, July 3 at 4 p.m. (both remaining residents and the cancelled student will need to complete pull-in form).  A link to this form was included in the email you and your previous roommate received on June 29.
  • Online Room Selection: all students who are removed will receive an appointment on July 2. From this point, students can run test searches and identify what spaces are available across campus.  Room Selection will take place from July 6 to July 8 at 4 p.m..
  • Students will be able to select from vacant spaces on UMass Amherst Campus and Mount Ida campus. Spaces at UMass Amherst will be design occupancy. All spaces at Mount Ida will all be single rooms. Spaces on the Mount Ida campus will show ‘Newton, Ma’ in the living options column.

Students who do not choose a housing assignment during these process are unassigned and no longer guaranteed a housing assignment for fall 2020.

I am a returning student and picked a room during the Fall 2020 room selection process. Will I keep my room assignment?

After July 1, Residential Life will communicate with returning students regarding their eligibility to live on campus.

I am a new student. Will I be able to live on campus this fall?

New students will be able to complete a preference application for the Fall 2020 Semester, however based on the adjusted start of fall semester, the deadline to submit preferences has been changed to non on Tuesday, July 7. Students can access the preference application in SPIRE by navigating to Main Menu>Residential Life>Preference Application.

I am a new student. When will I learn my Fall 2020 asssignment?

New student assignments will be released on July 31.

Will financial aid be adjusted if I choose to live at home?

(Added July 8, 2020) Students electing to live at home or with a parent or guardian will have a reduced cost of attendance and will potentially see a reduction in need-based aid. The reason for the reduction is that a student’s financial aid award is based on the projected yearly cost of attendance, which includes approximately $14,000 for the standard double room and meal plan. Students living at home or with a parent or guardian will incur these expenses at a lower amount and will have a lower overall cost of attendance. The maximum reduction in fall 2020 university-funded need based aid due to residing at home is $1,500 for the fall semester.

Students’ merit-based awards will not be adjusted in fall 2020 based on where a student resides. Notice of merit-based awards were detailed in students' acceptance letters from the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. These awards include the Flagship Award and Dean’s Scholarship for in-state students and the Chancellor’s Award for nonresidents. No other merit scholarships, either awarded by the university or from non-university sources, will be affected. 

Additional information about Financial Aid Services can be found at www.umass.edu/umfa/