Harvard Announces Plans for Students to ‘Learn Remotely’ for 2020-21 School Year with No Change in Tuition

Harvard University’s upcoming fall semester will look very different for students due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

On Monday, the Ivy League school announced that it will only allow 40 percent of its undergraduates onto its campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts, at the start of the academic year this fall. Those welcomed on school grounds include all first-year students and students “who must be on campus to progress academically.”

According to Harvard’s plan, first-year students will then “return home and learn remotely in the spring,” while seniors will be invited back on campus in early 2021 assuming that the school can maintain 40 percent density during the semester.

While all courses — including classes attended by students living in on-campus — will be taught online, the school said its tuition and fees will “remain as announced for the 2020-21 academic year.” (Currently, annual tuition costs $49,653 before fees and room and board charges.)

Students who spend the entire academic year learning remotely will be eligible to take two summer school courses on campus without tuition charge in 2021, according to Harvard.

Getty Harvard University

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“Choosing which students would be invited to campus was not easy, and we have enormous sympathy for sophomores and juniors as they consider the prospect of not starting their fall term in Cambridge,” the school said. “We could not help but recognize the unique position that first-year students find themselves in, making the transition to college in these strange times. They have not yet begun to build their Harvard network of faculty, advisors, and friends or learn about life in the Yard. Even with the many adaptations that will be in place this fall, we see enormous value in having them on campus in our residential system.”

Testing for coronavirus will be required for all students before returning to campus. Those planning to live in dorms will be then be tested for the virus every three days while in residence.

Harvard said it will also implement social distancing on campus and dedicate “housing for quarantine and isolation” for students living in dorms. The institution said it is also ready to transition from a traditional dining operation to a “touchless food pick-up” system for its on-campus residents.

“As one member of our planning group reminded us last week, we navigate this history-making moment without a roadmap,” the school said. “Harvard will be changed by the choices we make now, and this crisis gives us an incredible opportunity to change it for the better.”

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However, Harvard isn’t the only college making big changes in its upcoming academic year in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Princeton announced on Monday that first-years and juniors will be invited onto its New Jersey campus in August, while sophomores and seniors will be allowed to return during the spring semester.

Unlike Harvard, the school is offering a 10 percent discount on full-year undergraduate tuition as well as a reduction or elimination on some fees.

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“Over the last two months, my colleagues and I have been studying the pandemic and identifying measures we can take to accommodate students on campus. COVID-19 is still a very new disease, and much remains unknown about it,” Princeton President Christopher L. Eisgruber said in a message to the student body on Monday.

“Based on the information now available to us, we believe Princeton will be able to offer all of our undergraduate students at least one semester of on-campus education this academic year, but we will need to do much of our teaching online and remotely.”

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