How COVID-19 impacts graduate students

During this unconventional time, the University of Utah Graduate School is here for its students. Please read below for frequently asked questions about how COVID-19 and campus closures are impacting graduate students, from their medical coverage to tuition benefits.

Is there a list of resources of changes due to COVID-19?

The Graduate School posts resources and the latest policy changes at gradschool.utah.edu/covid-19.

Where do I go to ask a question?

The Graduate School has moved fully online, but staff are available from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. MST for chats at gradschool.utah.edu/covid-19. They try to be available in real-time, but will at least get back to you within a few hours. You can also email info@gradschool.utah.edu.

Are there any consequences for choosing credit/no credit over a grade?

Historically, tuition benefit has not covered C/NC coursework, however, due to the COVID-19 situation and guidance from the president’s office, tuition benefit will cover those courses during the Spring/Summer 2020 Semester. Tuition benefit will not be impacted if you choose C/NC in spring. 

What are the changes to the 2020 tuition benefits?

Find all of the tuition benefit updates here.

Here are some important points:

  • New extended tuition benefits program for fall 2020.
    • All students will have 24 credit hours to distribute over fall, spring and summer, provided that they have a qualifying assistantship during each of those terms.
    • The new extended tuition benefit option (xTBP) will allow the department or grant to cover the tuition at the resident rate, while maintaining all of the checks and balances associated with traditional TBP.
  • Reduced dissertation rate schedule for this summer—you can calculate it with 0% increase in tuition.
    • Use the table at the link above to calculate rates—use the tuition rate from 2019/2020 as there is no increase in tuition for this year.

International students are expected to enroll in nine credit hours each semester to maintain full-time status with USCIS. Will that still hold for next semester?

The best information will be with International Student & Scholar Services, but here’s what we know:

  • If you were enrolled in the spring semester and will enroll in the fall, you do not have to enroll in the summer semester to maintain your visa. You can if you want to, for example if you’re getting tuition benefits as a research associate , but it’s not required otherwise.
  • To be a full-time student, either nine credit hours of regular courses, or three credit hours of dissertation are required.

If we’re registered with three credit hours and if we’re getting paid a stipend through the department, does tuition benefit still continue through the summer?

If you will be paid as a research associate over the summer, and you were an RA on tuition benefit during either fall 2019 or spring 2020, that qualifies you to receive tuition benefits in the summer. Summer 2020 TBP is not available for teaching assistants and graduate assistants since the new TBP guidelines won’t be in effect until fall 2020.

The policy will change so that, starting in the summer of 2021, graduate students of all job categories will be eligible for tuition benefits in the summer term, as long as they haven’t already used all 24 credit hours available to them over the course of the academic year, and provided they have a qualifying assistantship in the summer.

Do we still receive a stipend over the summer?

That will depend on whether you have an assistantship or fellowship over the summer.

Your department should honor any original commitment that was made regarding your summer term employment.

If I was scheduled to defend my thesis during spring semester, but now need to defend in summer, what is the timeframe in which I would have to pay for summer semester?

If you don’t defend by May 29, you will need to retroactive enroll for summer 2020. 

Are the dissertation deadlines for the summer going to be extended from mid-June?

All of our staff are working full time and we’ve hired two new thesis editors to try to speed things up to help students finish on time. There’s also an expediting policy.

However, the thesis submission deadlines have not changed. Those remain June 12 for submissions over 200 pages (after defense) and June 19 for submissions under 200 pages (after defense).

Additional information is available on the thesis office website.

What will happen to my medical coverage over the summer?

If you were on the subsidized insurance program (GSHIP) during spring 2020, your coverage continues through Aug. 15, 2020, regardless of your enrollment or graduation status. If you have specific questions, email Jolyn Schleiffarth, the manager for fellowships and benefits, at jolyn.s@utah.edu.