Information for Students
We understand that the transition to virtual instruction will be challenging for many students and faculty. This unprecedented situation is forcing all students and faculty into unchartered territory as we each do our best to maintain academic continuity in a wholly virtual environment. Doing this amidst uncertainty about the virus itself, changes in living situations, and concerns about loved ones makes it even more challenging. Please try to be as patient as possible as we navigate through this transition together, knowing that continued changes and updates are inevitable.
Academic Calendar, Grading and Scheduling
How will the move to online instruction impact the academic calendar*? When will classes resume?
Numerous changes have been made to the academic calendar. Key dates for this semester are:
- First day of online instruction: Monday, April 6
- Last day of drop/grade change: Tuesday, April 21
- Last day of online instruction: Tuesday, May 12
- Study days: May 13-15
- Exam period: May 16-23
*Please note the following exceptions:
- This revised academic calendar applies to all undergraduates except students in the Cornell in Rome or AAP NYC programs and those completing their semesters through study abroad.
- The revised academic calendar also applies to all graduate students in research degree programs, except those enrolled in courses offered by Cornell Tech, which will maintain the existing calendar.
- The revised academic calendar does not apply to many professional masters programs. Please refer to program-specific calendars for the following: ILR-EMHRM, DVM, all Law programs and Cornell Tech professional masters degrees (Meng, MBA, LLM).
- The Law School and College of Veterinary Medicine have both modified their spring break timelines and will resume virtual instruction before April 6. Cornell Tech, which has already transitioned to virtual instruction along with some of our other NYC-based programs, will continue to conduct classes online. Please be sure to refer to your program’s leadership for guidance.
Will exam schedules, grading or other course expectations be modified?
Yes, we expect that shifting to an online format will make a range of changes inevitable. For example, expectations for how you will interact with your classmates and instructor, and in some cases the nature of your assignments, may be modified. The goal is to ensure that you can complete your academic work despite the circumstances, and to maintain the flexibility needed to do so. Be sure to stay in close touch with your faculty as necessary changes are communicated.
What changes have been made to university policies related to drop deadlines and grading options?
Undergraduate students will be permitted to change their grading basis to S/U in any Spring 2020 course (with the exception of 7 week courses from the first half of the semester that have already been completed and graded) until April 21, and for this semester, restrictions on S/U grades will be eased. S/U grades from this semester will be permitted for meeting requirements for entering and meeting major and minor requirements and satisfying college requirements for good standing. As always, grades of S/U are not given gradepoint values or taken into account in computing gradepoint averages.
Under the S/U grading basis, courses in which a grade of S is earned can be applied toward fulfillment of graduation requirements, but courses in which a U is earned cannot. Please be aware that the threshold for successfully completing a course is higher for the S/U grade basis than the letter grade basis. More specifically, if enrolled under the S/U grading basis, a minimum grade of C- is required for successful completion, whereas a minimum grade of D- would count as a passing letter grade.
In addition, credits taken for an S/U grade rather than letter grade this semester will be excluded from the maximum allowable S/U credits toward major or graduation requirements.
Students should contact their student services/academic advising office prior to any drops or grading basis changes to discuss potential implications. Please be aware that dropping below 12 academic credits will pose significant difficulty to your academic progress and financial aid. Questions regarding drop dates and changing a grading basis for a course may be directed to your college registrar’s office.
Instructors for courses taken by graduate/professional students should also offer an S/U grading option unless not permitted by internal degree requirement or external restrictions imposed by relevant accreditation or oversight bodies. Questions of interpretation should be resolved by the relevant unit dean.
How will online class schedules be determined? Will there be consideration for those in different time zones for international students?
Faculty will maintain their regular class meeting time to avoid creating scheduling conflicts across courses. However, because time zone changes may make it impossible for some students to participate in synchronous (live) sessions during meeting times pegged to the Eastern time zone, all lecture materials will be recorded or otherwise posted and be made available for students through Canvas. Both synchronous and asynchronous ways for you to engage with faculty and your classmates will be provided.
What should I do if I am worried about being able to maintain full-time academic status?
All full-semester courses will continue until the end of the semester. There are a small number of 7-week courses that may be cancelled (for example, PE courses that have not yet begun). We are actively pursuing ways to support students who may need to enroll in additional course credits to maintain full-time status. Please reach out to your college student services office, advising deans or advising office to discuss your options.
Moving to Online Courses
Can I access library materials and research help when I’m off campus?
Online resources and virtual research help are available, but physical books currently are not. Make sure you check the Library’s service updates regularly as the situation is fluid.
I rely on library reserves. How can I access course textbooks once I return home?
The Cornell Store has partnered with VitalSource and publishers to provide free access to eBooks through May 25, 2020. Students can use their cornell.edu email address to access up to seven titles through VitalSource Helps. For detailed instructions and information visit: https://www.cornellstore.com/faqs. Please be in touch with your instructor(s) to discuss concerns you may have about accessing course materials.
I rely on rental textbooks. Do I need to leave them behind when I leave campus?
No! The Cornell Store is extending the rental return deadline beyond the original May 16 return date to September 5, 2020. If you are not returning to Cornell for the fall semester, we will provide a solution for returning your rentals at no expense to you. Again, it is recommended that you keep your rented textbooks at this time. If you wish to keep your rented textbooks permanently, you may do so by converting your rental to purchase by contacting The Cornell Store’s Customer Care.
I am back home in China and am concerned about being able to access my courses and/or not receiving communications from my professors. What do I need to know?
In our experience, you will have the best success connecting from China if you can connect via cellular service. Verizon and AT&T are widely available, and students report that local carriers and wifi in China also allow access to Canvas and Zoom. Faculty have been made aware of the fact that Canvas is accessible in China, but Google is not, meaning that students may not be able to access their Cmail accounts. We have recommended that faculty communicate with you by sending announcements in Canvas or using the Canvas Inbox to mail students directly from Canvas (since this is not linked to Cmail). Zoom is also currently accessible in Canvas, and can be used for you to communicate directly with faculty if needed.
Can I still get help with my undergraduate classes through the Learning Strategies Center (LSC)?
Yes! The Learning Strategies Center’s support courses, tutoring and consultations will all be moving online. Check lsc.cornell.edu for up-to-date information. The LSC will also continue offering tips and resources for managing your time effectively and will add new tips to help you with your transition to online learning.
I have a disability that may prohibit or make online learning challenging for me. What should I do?
Student Disabilities Services (SDS) will discuss disability accommodations with students who register with their office. If you have a disability that may impact your ability to participate in online learning, please contact your SDS counselor, who can assist you with evaluating accommodation needs. If you are not registered with SDS but have concerns about the possibility of needing a disability accommodation in order to be able to participate in online learning, please follow the steps to register with SDS. Go to: https://sds.cornell.edu/get-started. Questions can be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
How will you accommodate students whose work requires being on-campus (i.e., access to labs or specialized equipment)?
As you know, all regular instruction has been moved online and almost all research facilities have been closed. We recognize that the transition to virtual instruction takes us into unchartered territory and will introduce unexpected disruptions, for both faculty and students. Please know that faculty are working hard to adapt their courses to an online format, including those that may be challenging to deliver remotely, such as labs, field-based, studio, music and performance courses. Given the vast breadth of disciplinary approaches within our undergraduate curriculum, decisions about how to accommodate students are being made at the course and department levels.
I need to request an academic accommodation for my religious observance. What should I do?
Both Cornell University policy and New York state law require professors to make reasonable academic accommodations for religious observance. However, it is your responsibility as a student to communicate your religious/spiritual needs to your professors. Please be sure to communicate early with your professors, and keep in mind that a “reasonable accommodation” may not be your preferred accommodation. If you have questions regarding how to work with a professor, please contact the Office of Spirituality and Meaning Making (OSMM), home of Cornell United Religious Work (CURW). For additional assistance, please contact Oliver Goodrich, Associate Dean of Spirituality and Meaning Making at email@example.com or 607-255-6003.
Students should set their current time zone in Canvas students, which will change assignment due dates/times to reflect your current geographic location. This is particularly important for students making a religious observance at a time that may differ from Cornell’s main campus in Ithaca.
Tools for Remote Learning
The Learning Strategies Center has developed a checklist to help students prepare to learn remotely. Below are additional resources to help get you started.
- Tips for using Canvas
- Tips for using Zoom
- Options for poor Wi-Fi or cellular service
- Storing and sharing files with Google Drive
- Storing and sharing files with Box
- Security practices to protect your data, identity and privacy
International Students & Scholars
I want to return home, but I need advice and information about my visa. Who can help?
I will graduate this semester, but Cornell has moved courses online due to COVID-19. Can I legally stay in the United States?
Yes. On March 9, 2020, the U.S. government issued guidance that recognized the need for flexibility around temporary arrangements for remote or online learning for international students. Provided that you continue to make normal progress in a full course of study (required by regulation), temporary arrangements for online or remote learning will not negatively impact your status.
I'm graduating this spring and I plan to apply for post-completion practical training (OPT). What should I do to maintain my eligibility for OPT?
If you are graduating this spring and planning to apply for OPT, we do not recommend that you depart the U.S. for the full remainder of the semester. In order to be eligible, you must be in the U.S. in F-1 status, with a valid I-94 document. Please contact an advisor in International Services if you have questions about your OPT application process and travel.
I am an international student and have others questions about travel guidelines, maintaining my visa status or moving to online instruction. Who can help?
The Office of Global Learning has created an FAQ to help address questions that our international students and scholars may have.
The university remains open and the International Services team is available to you at the same hours and in all the ways we always have been: in person, by phone at 607-255-5243, and by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. If access to campus is restricted or if you are not on campus, you can still reach us by phone or email: email@example.com. Cornell Tech students should continue to work with Cornell Tech Student Services during office hours or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Study Abroad & Summer Session
I am studying abroad. How will I complete my semester?
You should be in touch with the advisors in Education Abroad, and see answers to your questions and relevant updates on the International Affairs resources page.
Will summer session still be held?
The university will continue online Cornell summer classes. A full list of online offerings can be found on the School of Continuing Education website.
Given the uncertainty of when normal campus operations will resume, all in-person summer programs or activities, such as summer classes, conferences, etc., that were slated to begin prior to July 12 are canceled or will be converted to online offerings. We hope to make a decision about in-person programs scheduled after July 12 once the situation becomes clearer.
What is Cornell University Undergraduate Admissions doing to support freshman and transfer fall 2020 admits?
Cornell University is closely monitoring COVID-19, and Cornell University Undergraduate Admissions understands that this is a very difficult and uncertain time for freshman and transfer students around the world applying to colleges and universities. Cornell University Undergraduate Admissions are working closely with affected admitted students on a case-by-case basis and will do all that we can to assist and support those who have been accepted to the university. Those who have questions are asked to be in touch with us at email@example.com.
Were regular decision notification announcements for fall 2020 Undergraduate Admissions delayed?
While the university has been working to ensure the safety of the campus community and the continuity of learning for our current students, there has been no disruption to our holistic selection process for fall 2020 regular decision applicants. Cornell’s undergraduate admission committees have finalized our review of all fall 2020 freshman regular decision candidates and our regular decision notification date and time, common for all Ivy League institutions, was Thursday, March 26 beginning at 7 p.m. (EDT). Cornell applicants were sent information via email in late March regarding how to view their decision online using their Cornell application status portal.
How will COVID-19 impact the check list requirements and deadlines for new Cornell fall 2020 admits?
While much will depend on the progression of the virus in New York state, at this time we plan to welcome fall 2020 admits to campus in August. In the meantime, all requirements and deadlines for matriculation are as published at newstudents.cornell.edu. Please be sure to view the New Students website and to reach out directly to the appropriate department with any questions or concerns.
I am working on senior honors thesis research and/or a research project team. Will I be allowed to continue?
We recognize how important these activities are for student learning, and that you are undoubtedly disappointed that you will not continue to have access to on-campus labs or specialized equipment. All such activities were to be completed by the 5 p.m. on March 18. You should also consult with your faculty advisors about how you can continue your research remotely – if it is at all possible, you should absolutely continue! Departments should develop guidelines for how students can complete their theses in modified ways, if necessary (e.g., write a paper describing the approach, implications associated with possible findings, etc.). We expect these guidelines may vary across departments based on the type of research being conducted.
How do I complete my physical education courses/requirements?
All students enrolled in semester-long PE who have met the attendance requirement will receive credit for the semester. Given the unusual circumstances, the university leadership has waived the physical education requirement for graduating seniors who have not yet completed them.
I’m a senior and have not completed my swim test or my PE requirement. Will I be able to graduate?
Yes, given the circumstances, you will receive a waiver.
Financial Matters for Students
I cannot afford to go home or cannot afford a plane or bus ticket, or a storage unit. What do I do?
We realize that for some students, financial hardship may be a barrier to moving back to your permanent home residence for the remainder of the semester.
The Access Fund can support undergraduate, graduate, and professional students who need financial assistance with this moving process. If you are in need of this assistance, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students receiving financial aid may also contact their Financial Aid Office:
Who should I contact if I cannot afford internet or have internet connection issues for distance learning?
If you do not have internet access at home, or there are other reasons you cannot access your classes remotely, contact your advising dean to see how your school/college can support you with online coursework.
Students receiving financial aid may also contact their Financial Aid Office:
Who should I contact if I cannot afford a computer?
The Access Fund can support undergraduate, graduate, and professional students who need financial assistance with laptops. If you are in need of this assistance, email: email@example.com.
Can Student Health Plan (SHP and SHP+) plan members use their insurance outside of Ithaca?
Student Health Plan (SHP) and Student Health Plan Plus (SHP+) are designed to provide students with access to health care wherever they live or travel. SHP and SHP+ use the Aetna network, and it is common for U.S. health care providers to participate with this network. SHP and SHP+ also provide coverage internationally.
Will SHP/SHP+ cover testing and treatment for COVID-19?
In the event that a Student Health Plan (SHP or SHP+) member requires testing and/or treatment for COVID-19:
- Testing will be covered at no cost to the plan member when receiving care at an in-network provider office visit or urgent care center, or an emergency room.
- Treatment will be covered with cost shares detailed in your plan documents. If you are uncertain of your coverage, please visit Student Health Plan (SHP) or Student Health Plan Plus (SHP+) webpages for more details.
Will my Pell Grant or Federal Direct Loan be affected?
The Department of Education has released emergency guidelines regarding the use of federal financial aid funds. As long as students are enrolled and working towards their degree, Pell, Federal Direct Loan and SEOG funding will not be impacted.
Will my New York state grant be impacted by online instruction?
Provided students continue to meet New York State’s full-time enrollment standards (12 credits), state aid will not change. If you are considering dropping a course, please contact the Office of Financial Aid at 607-255-5145 or firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss how that may impact your eligibility.
I receive VA benefits. How will those be impacted?
Cornell is currently waiting on guidance from the VA and will provide updates as they become available. If you have immediate questions or concerns, please contact your Financial Aid Office.
What about my spring PE classes? Can I get a refund?
Students who registered for spring PE classes that have not started yet (Golf, sailing, etc.) will receive a 100% refund. Cornell is working on the details for those students who received additional funding to cover the costs of these courses.
I have a federal work-study job, will I still be paid while classes are held remotely?
Students should speak with their supervisors regarding the possibility of working remotely. Students currently employed under the Federal Work-Study Program whose job activities cannot be performed remotely may still be paid on FWS funds. Further guidance is available at https://studentemployment.cornell.edu/employers/qa-employing-students-during-covid-preparedness.
I’m a student employee. What happens if I can no longer work?
Student employees are currently permitted to work until the start of spring break (March 28). We are determining what options may exist for students who work on campus and will communicate directly with those students once a decision has been reached.
What if I am expecting a refund from funds (e.g. awards, grants, scholarship or loans)?
If money coming to you from awards, grants, scholarships, and loans exceeds the amount you owe on your bursar bill, the bursar authorizes direct deposit or a refund check. We strongly recommend setting up direct deposit for student refunds to avoid delays. Instructions are available at the Office of the Bursar website.
What if I decide to withdraw for the remainder of the semester?
What will happen to payments made if summer classes or programs are cancelled?
Cornell is closely monitoring the situation related to COVID-19 and will continue to work with and follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the New York State Department of Health and Tompkins County Public Health Services.
Will staff be available if I have questions?
- Undergraduate and Graduate Program Financial Aid: 607-255-5145 or email@example.com
- Law School: 607-255-5141 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Johnson School: 607-255-0865 or email@example.com
- Veterinary Medicine: 607-253-3700 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- You can contact the Office of the Bursar via phone or email at 607-255-2336 or bursar.cornell.edu.