Covid-19 Info Center

Fall 2020 FAQ

Academics
What life on campus will be like
Requests to live on campus, deferrals, and leaves of absence
Cost of attendance and financial aid
Arrival and orientation
Health and medical care on campus
Housing and dining
Research
Athletics, physical education, wellness, and recreation
International students
Travel and visitors
Updates log

Last updated: August 2, 2020

MIT is excited about the fall semester, though it will be quite different from a usual semester on campus. We encourage all students and families to explore this FAQ to learn about our approach to academics, community health and well-being, and student life. We will continually update this document as more information becomes available.

Many possible scenarios for Fall 2020 were thoroughly considered, and we benefited from extensive engagement with our community. A full report of the options considered is available on the Team 2020 website.

In the end, we opted to take a conservative approach to reopening – a stance informed by science, expert advice on public health and campus residential life, and our unique circumstances as an institution. The assumption underlying this approach is that there is much still to be understood about Covid-19 and how best to limit its impact.

Yet, as President L. Rafael Reif noted in his letter about these decisions, “….however sound and careful our process, I know these decisions come with a real human cost. They will require all of us, especially our students, to adjust to a new set of hard realities – coming on top of a long season of Covid-driven disruption and dislocation. I wish we could offer you an easier answer, but Covid-19 is simply not yet under control.”

Within our overall approach, we remain committed to fulfilling our teaching and research mission; caring for every member of our community; and focusing on those most in need of accommodation. Our choices are different from those of some other institutions, but we believe they are right for MIT.

The basics of our approach look like this:

  • Our Cambridge campus will operate at significantly reduced levels.
  • Among undergraduates, only seniors will be invited to campus in the fall.
  • There will be a process for students from other classes to request special consideration for housing if they face challenges related to safety, living conditions, visa status, or other hardship.
  • Only undergraduate students who have been invited or approved to come to campus and live on campus will be able to access MIT facilities.
  • Best practices for public health will be mandatory for anyone on campus.
  • Everyone on campus must use a daily health monitoring app provided by MIT.
  • Academically, MIT will operate on a two-semester model for the 2020-21 academic year with an early start and a modified calendar.
  • To effectively manage the number of people on campus, only undergraduate students who live on campus may participate in in-person instruction.
  • Graduate instruction will vary by school and program.
  • Our aim is to ensure all students are able to continue making academic progress.
  • We are working on innovative strategies for delivering a special MIT first-year experience. First-year students will receive more information about these efforts.
  • Tuition will remain at 2019-20 levels for all students, and we are adjusting our financial aid budget to meet families' increased financial needs.
  • All enrolled undergraduates will be offered at least one-semester of paid research, service, or teaching opportunity.
  • FSILGs will not be open for the fall, but MIT will work with FSILG alumni/ae to subsidize costs for house operations so they can resume operations once it is safe to do so.
  • Fall athletic programs are cancelled.

This will not be how any of us would hope to start the academic year. But, one way or another, it will be a unique and extraordinary semester – one we will all grow and learn from in unexpected ways.

Below, by topic, we provide answers for many of your more specific questions. See the updates log for a list of changes.

Academics

What is MIT doing to ensure the excellence of its online educational offerings?

Faculty and departments across MIT are working throughout the summer to create and develop MIT-quality remote learning experiences. They are backed up by the pedagogical expertise of our Teaching and Learning Lab team, by the digital learning expertise of the Office of Open Learning, and by Digital Learning Lab fellows in many departments.

Which MIT classes will be offered online in Fall 2020, and which classes will have in-person elements? When will registration open and close?

The full schedule of courses, including an indication of those that will be taught online and those with in-person elements, was released on Friday, July 17, 2020 and is available at the MIT Subject Listing & Schedule website.

Pre-registration for all continuing students opened on Monday, July 20. The deadline to complete pre-registration will be Friday, August 14. The deadline for continuing students to select preferences for fall CI-H/CI-HW subject will be Friday, July 31.

When will graduate students learn more about the plan for research and their academic programs?

Many current graduate students resumed their work on campus in June, following rigorous public health rules and protocols. For new and returning students in the fall, the same rules will apply, and graduate students can expect a combination of online and in-person instruction.

However, beyond these basics, we know graduate students need much more information to make decisions, including whether coming to MIT physically for the fall is the best option. Because graduate programs vary so much in their length, nature, and need for campus facilities, fall plans will also differ sharply by program, and many details are still being finalized. Soon after the course schedule is published on Friday, July 17, graduate students can expect to hear directly from their department or program about plans for the fall term.

MIT’s research ramp-up is underway; see more information here.

What is the calendar for the fall semester? Will there be IAP?

Fall term 2020 will begin on Tuesday, September 1, followed by:

  • Fourteen calendar weeks for classes ending on a Wednesday, plus a four-day reading period.
  • A one-week Thanksgiving break.
  • A five-day period reserved for final examinations in December.

Registration Day for Fall 2020 will take place on Monday, August 31, with classes for all students starting Tuesday, September 1. To enable returning students to test for Covid-19 and to quarantine, all instruction (graduate and undergraduate) will be delivered remotely during the first week of classes (September 1-7). Selected in-person classes will be conducted on campus beginning Tuesday, September 8.

Thanksgiving break will begin on Saturday, November 21, and will continue through Sunday, November 29. Undergraduates living on campus will be expected to depart for the remainder of the semester the weekend before Thanksgiving. No academic exercises will be held and no assignments will be due during the Thanksgiving break.

Classes will resume remotely for all graduate and undergraduate students on Monday, November 30, and continue through the last day of classes on Wednesday, December 9. Final exams will follow a four-day reading period. All exams will be remote and will take place December 14-18.

Our current plan is for IAP 2021 to be remote, though there may be some variations by program.

Will all undergraduate students be able stay on track to graduate, whether they learn on campus or off campus in Fall 2020?

We are committed to ensuring undergraduate students have the opportunity to progress to on-time degree completion. Students should contact their academic advisor and department-based program administrators and officers if they have questions and/or if they require individualized support.

How does MIT determine if I am a senior?

Our system calculates class year based upon this formula: How many terms have students had as year X. If the answer is two, then advance to the next year in the next term. In other words, undergraduates have two major terms (fall and spring) in each year (first-year, sophomore, etc.) and then advance their year. A student then remains a senior for as long as it takes to graduate.

Will undergraduate students be able to participate in research activities?

Yes. UROP is an integral part of an MIT education, and the Institute will make on-campus and remote UROP and other experiential learning opportunities available to undergraduate students in Fall 2020 and Spring 2021. Undergraduates who live on campus in the fall may participate in in-person UROPs if the research project meets all safety and public health requirements; can be conducted within the confines of MIT’s limited campus space constraints; and has approval from the faculty sponsor/PI. Remote UROPs will also be an option for students living on and off campus. More details about UROPs and other experiential learning opportunities can be found in the cost of attendance section.

Will in-person elements of classes and/or residential life, clubs, and activities be available for undergraduate students who are not living on campus in Fall 2020?

No. Following our careful approach to managing community health on campus, only those students who live on campus this fall will have access to campus for any reason. Undergraduate students living off campus will not be able to enter campus buildings.

How will grading work in Fall 2020?

On Friday, July 17, 2020, the Academic Policy and Regulations Team (APART) announced a decision on the grading system that will be in effect for the fall semester. The full grading policy for fall 2020 was released on July 28, 2020.

Is cross-registration permitted this fall?

For MIT students: MIT undergraduates will be allowed to cross-register for remote classes at Harvard and Wellesley during the fall term. Students should review the instructions and deadlines specific to each institution.

For non-MIT students: Cross-registration opportunities will be available during the fall semester for remote classes only. Instructors will also have the discretion to refuse cross-registration requests if they cause an undue burden on class availability and capacity.

For more information, visit the Registrar‘s Office cross-registration page.

Where can undergraduate and graduate students turn for academic and other forms of support?

The academic support resources that students are familiar with accessing on campus such as Student Support Services and GradSupport have been virtualized for all students, whether they live on or off campus. These online resources will remain available throughout the academic year.

For students living on campus, as is customary, house teams – composed of heads of house in all on-campus houses, and area directors and graduate resident assistants in undergraduate houses – will be in each residence hall to provide support to their residents.

Student Support Services assembled this list of wellness promotion resources, which includes online programs through DAPER, Community Wellness, MIT Medical, MindHandHeart, and more.

How is MIT going to help the Class of 2024? What types of support will the Office of the First Year provide to incoming students?

We are working on innovative strategies for delivering a special MIT first-year experience. First-year students will receive more information about these efforts. The Office of the First Year (OFY) will be holding virtual academic sessions after the fall term course schedule is released Friday, July 17 to help incoming students think about their fall classes. Virtual academic sessions for parents are also being planned. And OFY will continue to hold virtual office hours and one-on-one meetings.

Can seniors invited to campus in Fall 2020 decide to live off campus?

Seniors can decide to live off campus but, if they do, they will lose access to campus, including to in-person instruction and to on-campus activities and facilities.

How will remote students be able to participate in experiential/hands-on learning?

Students who will be remote in Fall 2020 will have many options for virtual programming. In addition to UROP, the PKG Center, MISTI, the Innovation Initiative, and others will offer remote program options in the fall. MIT will guarantee all enrolled undergraduate students, whether remote or in-person, at least one semester of paid experiential learning opportunity during the academic year. MIT has also developed guidance on remote making to help students make things safely while away from MIT’s campus.

How will MIT support students who need equipment or enhanced WiFi access?

MIT wants to ensure all students can continue their academic programs via remote learning, both on and off campus. As it did last spring, MIT will loan WiFi hotspots and computing equipment including laptops to those who need them. And, 24/7 technical support by phone or email is available to all.

Further, because of how critical collaboration and small group problem-solving are to many aspects of student learning and community building at MIT, MIT will loan a cellular-enabled Apple iPad and Apple Pencil to any undergraduate student or graduate TA who does not already have one (or who wishes to upgrade relative to what they own). These will be available to all enrolled students, on or off campus. Many faculty will be relying on students having these as well as laptops, so we encourage students to take advantage of this program.

What support will be provided to students for internship placements and job searches?

Career Advising and Professional Development (CAPD) has moved advising, programs, events, recruitment, and career fairs to virtual platforms. CAPD staff are enhancing their services to provide more support for employment and graduate/professional school application processes that have moved online, including video interview preparation.

I am in an MEng program and so have concurrent graduate and undergraduate status. What will my housing options be?

Fourth-year undergraduates admitted to an MEng degree program during their senior year will continue to be considered fourth-year undergraduates for the purposes of all Covid-related policies, including housing, dining, access to campus, financial aid, grading, etc. They will be considered graduate students in their fifth year.

I will be classified as a junior in the fall term and a senior in the spring term. Will I be able to study on campus at all this year?

The registrar will reclassify all students in this situation as juniors for the spring term. This means they will have the opportunity to study on campus in the spring term.

What life on campus will be like

What will life be like for students who return to campus?

One of the great joys of being an MIT community member is the vibrancy of campus life. Given the current pandemic, however, students should know that life at MIT will be very different than it was at the start of the 2019 fall semester. Though this is disappointing for all of us, the measures described below are intended to protect the health and safety of MIT community members and our neighbors.

The foundation of our approach to reopening is regular testing. Upon arrival to campus, students residing on campus will be tested for Covid-19 by MIT Medical followed by a seven-day self-quarantine until they receive a second test, seven days later. As an extra precaution, the first week of classes will be conducted entirely online to accommodate the seven-day self-quarantine period. Students who are on campus will also be tested regularly for Covid-19 during the fall.

Only undergraduate students who live on campus and graduate students granted access as part of their research/teaching assistantships or to take in-person classes will have access to MIT facilities (with certain access restrictions) and in-person instruction. While staff and student leaders are working to allow for some level of on-campus student engagement, student activity groups or clubs – including dance, theater, and musical groups – are prohibited from meeting in person.

To allow for physical distancing, undergraduate students will be housed one per room each in residence halls. All FSILGs will be closed. To further limit the potential for viral spread, residence halls, FSILGs, and student groups may not hold events on campus or in the FSILGs.

MIT and each residence hall will have policies about Covid-related conduct, but in all cases face coverings are to be worn outside a student’s room and in academic buildings, labs, and other shared spaces.

So everyone understands their role in protecting themselves and each other, students returning to campus will be required to complete public health education, sign an agreement to live in MIT housing and have access to campus, and attest to their wellness online before entering MIT facilities. Additionally, all students will be required to follow physical distancing and other safety requirements and follow policies that have been put in place due to Covid-19. Under certain circumstances, students will be asked to share information about contacts with other people on and off campus.

Shared kitchens are potential hotspots for spreading the virus. As a result, everyday cooking in undergraduate residence hall floor and country kitchens is prohibited, and all undergraduates on campus will be required to sign up for a meal plan. To lighten the financial impact of this necessary precaution, the meal plan cost will be reduced by more than 40 percent with a special Covid-19 subsidy. Residential dining halls and other dining facilities will be open with limited seating and modified services.

Because access to MIT facilities will be closely managed, everyone on campus will be required to carry their MIT ID at all times. Most buildings will be accessible through only one staffed access point. Working spaces may be reconfigured and schedules changed to allow for adequate physical distancing. Cleaning protocols across campus will be stepped up.

Unfortunately, MIT varsity sports teams will not compete this fall. On-campus offerings for both club sports and intramurals will be reviewed based on student demographics and health and safety guidelines. DAPER will provide more information to all affected by these cancellations directly. For students living on campus, indoor fitness facilities will open in September with changes to their layout, occupancy numbers, and policies to limit the potential spread of Covid-19. Some outdoor fitness facilities will reopen sooner. As with all other MIT facilities, access to DAPER facilities will be limited only to students authorized to be on campus.

The customary undergraduate and graduate student support resources will be available online and by phone as they were to all students on and off campus this spring. Any student who is invited back to campus and has concerns about returning should reach out to one of the many support resources available to MIT students.

What personal protective equipment (PPE) will be required on campus?

All members of the MIT community will be required to wear a face covering. The face covering will need to cover the nose and mouth and should not contain a vent or valve. The Division of Student Life (DSL) will provide students with masks when they move into their residence halls.

When and where will I be required to wear a face covering?

Face coverings are required in all indoor public spaces at MIT, including lobbies, hallways, elevators, and stairs, and outdoors when you cannot maintain a distance of six feet from other people. The only place you will be allowed to be without a face covering is when you are in your room. During the summer months (through September 22, 2020), face coverings may be removed temporarily when you are outdoors and able to maintain a physical distance of at least six feet from other people. Review the PPE policy statement for guidelines and best practices.

Will there be changes to how students access campus buildings in Fall 2020?

Students living on campus should expect that access to campus spaces will be limited, determined by academic, research, and student life operations. Students will need to continue to meet all requirements for testing, public health training, and self-health attestations to maintain access to campus spaces. Students living off campus will not have access to campus facilities or in-person instruction.

Will there be in-person activities such as clubs, music groups, or theatre on campus in Fall 2020?

At this time, public health and MIT policies prohibit student gatherings. Student Organizations, Leadership and Engagement (SOLE) and the Campus Activities Complex, in consultation with student leaders from the Association of Student Activities, the Graduate Student Council, and the Undergraduate Association, are working on an approach that will enable student groups to function in ways that follow public health guidelines and MIT policies.

Student groups may be able to request access to their offices and storage to get specific items needed for their operations. However, the spaces may not be used for meetings or events. The process for requesting access to student group offices and storage will be managed through the Engage system.

With regard to music, dance, and theatrical events, research suggests that the risk of spreading the virus may be elevated when people sing, speak loudly, or engage in close-contact physical activity like dancing. As a result, no music, dance, or theatrical performances will be allowed on campus.

Will MIT allow on-campus parties?

No. Social gatherings and parties are not permitted on campus.

Can students with access to campus travel for long weekends or an extended period and then return to their residence hall?

Since early in the pandemic, MIT has not permitted Institute-sponsored travel and strongly discouraged community members’ non-essential international and domestic travel. This fall, we believe it is essential that students limit their travel – including weekend trips home – to prevent the transmission of Covid-19 to and from our community. We’ve seen this summer how student travel and attendance at parties has greatly contributed to the nationwide spread of the virus, and we can and must set a better standard of care for one another. The virus’s trajectory is highly unpredictable, so travel guidance and restrictions are subject to change without warning.

Can students who live on campus have jobs in the Cambridge area?

Students who choose to work on or off campus should take appropriate precautions, including wearing a face covering and practicing physical distancing. Any student exposed to Covid-19 at a workplace is required to follow all MIT isolation policies and protocols.

Requests to live on campus, deferrals, and leaves of absence

Why are senior being prioritized for return to campus this fall?

Seniors are being prioritized because they have the least amount of time remaining to satisfy degree requirements and because being on campus is important for essential work in their programs, including in capstone subjects, research, and theses.

As a matter of equity, we want to enable every student to spend at least one term on campus. We intend to open campus for all first-years, sophomores, and juniors in the spring. If public health conditions change fundamentally – e.g., if an effective vaccine becomes widely available –  we can offer seniors the opportunity to be on campus for the spring term as well.

Will MIT have a process for students to seek assistance with on-campus and off-campus housing? How will that process work?

Yes. The Student Housing Assistance Review Process (SHARP) is designed to help two groups of students:

  • Rising sophomores and juniors who wish to request on-campus housing during the fall 2020 semester.
  • Students, including seniors, who are experiencing significant hardship and who believe they absolutely cannot live at home and cannot live on campus.

As a general rule, incoming first-year students will not be considered for on-campus housing except in cases of significant hardship. This is because there will be no on-campus orientation in the fall and first-years won't have the benefit of all of the social interaction and on-campus support that is part of a typical MIT fall. As a result, first-year students would experience challenges trying to navigate MIT on their own. Even so, if you are a first-year student and feel you are in a situation that makes it important for you to be on campus, please submit a request through SHARP.

For more information about eligibility criteria, helpful resources, deadlines, and other aspects of the process, please visit the SHARP website. SHARP closed on July 28, 2020.

What is the decision deadline for first-year undergraduate deferrals? Can incoming first-year undergraduate students defer for only the fall semester?

The Admissions Office handles gap year requests. Incoming first-year undergraduate students had until July 27, 2020 to indicate if they wished to defer their enrollment (that is, take a “gap year”) for the 2020-21 academic year. After this date, a gap year request may not be granted.

As in previous years, MIT will not allow incoming first-year undergraduate students to defer only for the fall semester, as this could result in students being off-cycle to meet certain requirements.

If incoming first-year undergraduate students defer their acceptance to MIT, will they be guaranteed a spot to return in Fall 2021?

Yes, provided students make their request to the Admissions Office by Monday, July 27, 2020, and abide by established policies for first-year undergraduate deferrals. Requests can be made to gapyear@mit.edu.

How will leaves of absence work for upper-level undergraduate students? Will students who take a leave of absence be guaranteed on-campus housing when they return?

Upper-level students (sophomores, juniors, and seniors) will be able to follow the typical process for requesting a leave of absence by visiting here and filling out the appropriate form. Students invited to campus might be undecided about living on campus or taking a leave of absence; these students should be sure to submit an application for housing if they want on-campus housing. Students invited to campus who don’t submit their preferences by Monday July 27 will not be guaranteed housing for fall 2020.
 
As in prior years, students who take a leave of absence are not guaranteed on-campus housing upon return. Housing & Residential Services makes every effort to place undergraduates in on-campus housing, but it is important for students to factor into their decision-making process that on-campus housing availability will likely be extremely constrained in future years.

Can newly admitted graduate students defer their enrollment for a year? Can continuing graduate students take time away from the Institute?

Different degree programs require different amounts of in-person and online instruction, and on-campus TA and RA requirements vary significantly. Before making a decision about deferring enrollment as a newly admitted graduate student or taking time away from the Institute as a continuing student, students should consult with their department administrator and faculty supervisor to discuss whether their work and studies can be performed in-person or remotely.

More information can be found in Graduate Policies & Procedures, and additional support can be provided by GradSupport in the Office of Graduate Education (OGE).

Cost of attendance and financial aid

For a detailed FAQ about MIT’s 2020-21 cost of attendance and financial aid policies, please visit the Student Financial Services 2020 financial support for undergrads website.
 

What is MIT charging for tuition in Fall 2020?

MIT has rolled back the announced increase in tuition for the 2020-21 academic year, holding it steady with this past year. In addition, students will not be assessed the student life fee for the 2020-21 academic year.

What is MIT doing to support students and families in the 2020-21 academic year, and their investment in an MIT education?

MIT is taking the following steps:

  • Tuition: Tuition will remain at the 2019–20 rate. There will not be the planned 3.8% increase this year.
  • Student life fee: No one will be charged a student life fee for the coming academic year regardless if you are on campus or not.
  • Housing allowance: Typically, our housing allowance is tied to the most expensive double room on campus. That remains true this year, even though all students will be living in single rooms. MIT is only charging for a double room.
    • For students living off campus, we expect that many students will be living at home and will not have housing expenses. However, in recognition that there may be other costs, MIT has decided to offer students half the on-campus allowance.
    • We do recognize that living at home is not a viable option for everyone. If this is the case, you may request to live on campus through the student housing assistance review process (SHARP). If your SHARP request is granted, your aid will be readjusted to the on-campus level. We provide options for seniors who signed leases in the FAQs section below. Please note that, as a general rule, incoming first-year students’ requests will not be considered except in cases of significant hardship. More information about this guidance for first-year students is available on the SHARP website.
    • If you feel you cannot live at home and cannot live on campus, you may appeal through SHARP. SHARP will evaluate your request to determine if additional financial support will be provided.
  • Dining allowance: Typically, our dining allowance is tied to the most expensive meal plan, originally set at $3,160 per semester for the 2020–21 school year. This year, there will only be one meal plan, a 14 meal/week plan that will cost $1,900. MIT is subsidizing the actual cost to help with your expenses. So that students can supplement their meals per week, the dining allowance in the cost of attendance is $2,500 per semester.
    • We expect that students living at home will have reduced food costs, and we are offering an allowance of half the on-campus rate.
  • Books, supplies, and personal expenses: These are standard allowances for books, supplies, and personal expenses, set at $1,506 per semester, for both on-campus and off-campus students.
  • Travel: For the on-campus semester, we are offering students an allowance to support one round trip to and from campus. We are not offering an allowance for travel during the semester off campus.

Additional support

  • Covid-era grant: In recognition that this year there will be financial uncertainties for many families, we are offering a new one-time grant of $5,000 to all undergraduates enrolled for the full academic year 2020-21.
    • Based on feedback from students, we have clarified that every student will see the full benefit of the $5,000.
    • We will apply the full $5,000 in the fall for all enrolled students, and it will appear as a credit on your student account. This means that if you have an outstanding balance of $5,000 or more, your bill will be reduced by that amount. If your bill is greater than $0 but less than $5,000, your bill will be zeroed out and you will receive the remainder as a refund. If your bill is already $0, you will receive the full $5,000 as a refund.
    • The grant will appear in your financial aid award letter (for those receiving financial aid) and on the fall bill (for everyone), which are scheduled to go out respectively on July 20 and August 10.
  • Guaranteed employment or research opportunity: All undergraduates, remote or on campus, will have the opportunity for a paid UROP, teaching opportunity, or public service opportunity through the PKG Center. These experiential learning opportunities will be available to every undergraduate student, whether remote or in person, through programs such as UROP, MISTI, PKG, Open Learning, or Sandbox, and will offer a stipend of up to $1,900. The guarantee is for one semester but does not prevent students from earning more in that semester or engaging in more than one experiential learning opportunity.
  • Technology: To promote collaboration and small group problem solving for our enrolled students, whether remote or on campus, MIT will loan a cellular-enabled Apple iPad and Apple Pencil to any undergraduate student who does not already have one (or who wishes to upgrade relative to what they own). For more details and to indicate whether or not you wish to enroll, fill out this short form. Further, as during the spring semester, MIT will once again loan WiFi hotspots and computing equipment, including laptops, to those who need them. Visit the Computing Equipment Loaner Program website for more information. 24/7 technical support by phone or email will also be available to all.
Student Financial Services has calculated my financial aid award presuming one semester on campus and one semester off campus. What if that is not the case for me?

In order to get awards to students quickly, we calculated aid based on the expectation that students will spend one semester on campus and one semester off campus. However, we know that student situations may vary, and we may adjust your award up or down accordingly.

I am not able to live at home. What do I do?

We understand that some students are not able to live at home during their off-campus semester. The Division of Student Life has developed a student housing assistance review process (SHARP) for you to request special dispensation to live on campus. You are eligible to apply under the following circumstances:

  • You are currently in a short-term arrangement or on-campus emergency housing and cannot return home due to travel restrictions, circumstances in your home state/country, or circumstances of your life.
  • You have a home environment that would significantly impair remote learning.
  • You do not have another place to live or being at home is unsafe given circumstances in your country or home.

Please note that incoming first-year students will only be considered through this process if they are facing significant hardship. More information about this aspect of the SHARP guidance is available on the SHARP website. 

SHARP closed on July 28, 2020.

I cannot live at home and I can’t live on-campus. What should I do?

The Covid-era grant is designed to provide students and their families with additional financial resources that can be used in many ways, including applying the grant to off-campus housing expenses.

Students who are experiencing significant hardship and believe that they absolutely can not live at home and cannot live on campus, can submit a form through SHARP so that student support professionals can better understand your situation. The SHARP team may consult with appropriate offices, including Student Financial Services, to make sure they are making the most informed decisions. The result of this process will determine if additional financial support beyond the Covid-era grant will be provided.

SHARP closed on July 28, 2020.

I am a senior who has signed a lease and wants to access MIT’s campus this fall. What are my options?

Accessing MIT’s campus requires students to live on campus this fall. MIT’s Off-Campus Housing Office has put together helpful directions on how you can potentially sublet, assign, or terminate your lease. For more details, and contact information, please visit the Division of Student Life Fall 2020 website.

We understand that some students may be unable to sublet and therefore may have additional costs if moving on campus while maintaining a lease for three months. The Covid-era grant is intended to address a range of financial uncertainties our students will face, including this situation.

If I receive financial aid, will I be expected to work as part of my award this year?

Yes. Students who have a student contribution as part of their financial aid award generally meet that expectation through term-time work. We recognize that it might be harder to find opportunities, so MIT is developing research, public service, and teaching positions to help fill the gaps. To that end, every undergraduate student will be guaranteed a paid research or employment opportunity this academic year.

These experiential learning opportunities will be available to every undergraduate student, whether remote or in person, through programs such as UROP, UTOP, MISTI, PKG, Open Learning, or Sandbox.

Outside scholarships, including the Federal Pell Grant, also reduce your work expectations.

I have already received a financial aid award? Will my aid change?

Yes. The Student Financial Services (SFS) team is working to revise each award to reflect the change in tuition, housing, and other allowances, as well as the addition of the Covid-era grant.

When will I receive my revised financial aid award?

Revised financial aid awards were sent to students in July. More information about award adjustments can be found on the Student Financial Services website.

If my family’s income has changed, can I appeal my financial aid award?

Many families may find themselves in a new circumstance, and we are here to work with you during this challenging time. If you think that you may need to appeal your financial aid award, you are welcome to do so.

We will consider changes to overall income if there has been a 10% or larger reduction in your family income. You will need to fill out the estimated income appeal form and send it to us with your appeal.

You should reach out to your financial aid counselor directly, and they will work with you to review your appeal.

If I didn’t apply for aid but my financial situation has changed, can I still apply for aid?

Yes. Families can always apply for aid at any time during their four years at MIT. For more information, see the Student Financial Services undergraduate students page.

What if I have extenuating circumstances and I need more financial support?

Students in this situation should contact Student Financial Services (SFS) so their financial aid counselor can learn more about the extenuating circumstances they may be facing. The counselor will work with you and possibly other offices such as Student Support and Wellbeing, Housing and Residential Services, and the International Students Office, among others, to determine potential next steps.

How is MIT helping graduate students and their families with acute or longer-term financial distress?

We know that financial stress can affect individual well-being and academic success. MIT can provide assistance to graduate students experiencing financial hardships arising from a variety of circumstances. The following awards are not a loan and do not need to be repaid. Graduate students should contact Student Financial Services (SFS) if they wish to learn more about their eligibility for the following assistance programs:

  • MIT Grant for Graduate Students with Children
  • Graduate Student Short-Term Emergency Fund
  • Doctoral Long-term Financial Hardship Funding

Arrival and orientation

What are the health testing requirements and processes for students returning to campus?

All students returning to campus and using campus facilities will be required to be tested for Covid-19 upon arrival and to self-quarantine for a full seven days. After quarantining, students will need to take a second test. If both tests are negative, students will be allowed to access campus buildings to attend classes, perform research, etc.

All incoming students must also complete the Student Medical Report Form, with no exceptions. If students fail to meet the deadline for submitting this form, their registration status will be placed on hold.

Students will also be required have a flu shot during the 2020-21 academic year. Exceptions will be made for religious or medical reasons only.

Do students who live out of state and travel to campus need to self-quarantine for two weeks before coming to campus?

No. Rather than requiring students to quarantine before arriving, MIT Medical will test students returning to campus upon arrival, followed by a full seven-day quarantine period and then a second test.

Do students need to schedule an appointment to get tested, or can they just walk in to be tested?

Students do not need to schedule an appointment if they need to be tested when returning to campus. MIT Medical has walk-in testing available for returning students Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. MIT Medical will have designated weekend hours for Covid-19 testing during move-in days at the end of August to accommodate students who are moving back to campus.

When are test results available?

Results are typically available within 24 hours.

How often will students need to be tested after their initial arrival testing?

MIT will begin by testing students residing on campus twice per week and will adjust this protocol as necessary. MIT Medical will share more details as workflows and policies are determined.

Who receives the test results?

A student’s test results are protected medical information. Only the individual student and MIT Medical will have access to the test results.

What happens if the test indicates positive for Covid-19?

If a student receives a positive Covid-19 test, they will be notified by a clinician from MIT Medical.

Any student residing on campus who tests positive for Covid-19 will have the full support and dedicated resources of the MIT community. Campus partners, including staff from MIT Medical and the CARE Team, have developed a comprehensive approach to supporting residents diagnosed with Covid-19 until they fully recover.

Two types of isolation space will be made available for residents in undergraduate and graduate housing should they test positive for Covid-19: an on-campus central location in a residence hall, and distributed locations in some halls where there is suitable space. Undergraduate students living in residence halls with designated isolation spaces will self-isolate in those areas. Undergraduate students living in residence halls that do not have distributed isolation spaces available in their building will isolate in a separate residential facility. All students who are isolating will receive support from MIT Medical, DSL, and their residential life team. Graduate students living on campus may isolate in their private apartments if they live in efficiencies, one-bedrooms, or two-bedroom units in family housing. Graduate students residing in on-campus dormitory-style housing or multi-occupant units may be relocated to designated isolation areas in their building or to another campus location.

Isolation spaces on campus are intended to meet the needs of those students who are living on campus.

When can students move into their residence halls? What is the plan for Fall 2020 move-in?

In order to ensure that move-in can happen while maintaining physical distancing, students will receive designated move-in days and times. Students must arrive at their designated time to help ensure a smooth move-in process.

Some undergraduate students may be invited to move in on Saturday, August 29, and some on Sunday, August 30. Students will receive additional information about the move-in process and timing in August.

Some graduate students have already returned to campus, as described here. Additional August move-in dates are planned and will be confirmed with individual graduate students.

How will orientation work for the undergraduate Class of 2024?

The Office of the First Year (OFY) is planning to host a virtual orientation for the Class of 2024, and work is well underway. Incoming students have already been paired with orientation leaders, and MIT is planning for an exceptional first year. Orientation sessions will include academic planning, ASEs, parent programs, class unity events, student life topics, UROPs, and others. These programs will build on the existing outreach already underway. The schedule will be released in mid-July here.

How will orientation work for incoming graduate students who live on and off campus in Fall 2020?

The graduate student orientation team, composed of leaders from the Graduate Student Council (GSC), Division of Student Life (DSL), Office of Graduate Education (OGE) and Office of the Vice Chancellor (OVC), is working to develop virtualized programming to help new graduate students acclimate to MIT. These efforts, which including organizing informational, academic, and social events, have already begun and will continue in the coming months. Additionally, departments will communicate directly with their students about department-specific programming.

Health and medical care on campus

How is MIT working to reduce the spread of Covid-19 on campus?

MIT has developed a comprehensive approach to lowering the risk of infection. The program is safety driven and applies a campus-wide surveillance strategy. It includes required training, testing upon arrival and up to twice a week, and daily tracking of health symptoms. We have been piloting this approach this summer to ensure we are prepared for more students and staff to be on campus. MIT’s testing and prevention measures can be ramped up if health data warrant it, and we have the flexibility to leverage new testing technologies.

Who should I talk to if I am worried about the risks associated with returning to campus?

There are, of course, heightened health risks associated with the Covid-19 pandemic. MIT recognizes that students who are eligible to return have to weigh their concerns about these risks as they decide whether to return to campus.  Students worried about returning should have conversations with loved ones, doctors, trusted supports at MIT, and/or MIT Medical (examples of helpful resources can be found here). They may also speak to their faculty advisors or supervisors as well as administrators in their departments. If students want to request accommodations associated with Covid-19, they should contact Disability and Access Services.

How does contact tracing for Covid-19 work? What will MIT Medical tell other people?

If a student tests positive, MIT will contact them to learn about anyone they might have exposed to Covid-19. Those individuals may be advised to self-quarantine or to get tested. MIT will protect students’ privacy; their names will not be shared with the individuals potentially exposed.

Will enrolled students not living on campus but who are living nearby be able to access MIT Medical? Can they schedule a Covid-19 test at MIT Medical?

As always, all MIT students are covered by the MIT Student Medical Plan, included with tuition, which covers most services at MIT Medical in full. This means that enrolled students living nearby off campus can seek treatment through MIT Medical for their health needs. Covid-19 testing will be available to them, by appointment. If you are on the Student Extended Insurance Plan, you will also have nationwide coverage through the Blue Cross Blue Shield network.    

How will the Student Extended Insurance Plan work?

The Student Extended Insurance Plan is a nationwide Blue Cross Blue Shield plan. To learn more about using your insurance during the pandemic, visit our FAQ.

What if I have medical questions not answered here?

MIT Medical has a series of FAQs related to Covid-19 that are updated regularly. You can also send an email to medical@mit.edu if you have general questions. Remember: Specific health-related questions are private, protected information that should only be discussed between you and your provider via phone calls or through a secure patient portal. You should never email personal medical questions to your provider or to the general medical@mit.edu address.

Housing and dining

What agreements and community expectations will students who live in on-campus housing in Fall 2020 have to sign and follow?

Undergraduate students invited to return to campus and graduate students who will be on campus will need to read, sign, and follow an agreement to comply with public health expectations and MIT Covid-19 policies. It will contain information about MIT’s new Covid-19 policies and protocols as well as how the Institute will address non-compliance. Students’ emergency contacts will also need to read and electronically sign an acknowledgement of this agreement. More information about the agreement can be found here for undergraduates and here for graduate students

In addition to the agreement, MIT has campus-wide Covid-19 policies and protocols. Current Covid-19 housing policies were put in place in March and have been updated for the fall semester. See undergraduate policies and graduate policies for students living in undergraduate and graduate residence halls.

All residence hall policies also apply to graduate spouses, partners, and families who live on-campus.

Will the undergraduates who are invited to campus in Fall 2020 be required to live in one of MIT’s undergraduate residence halls in order to access in-person elements of an MIT education as well as MIT facilities?

Yes. To meet the public safety and health objectives of the Institute’s fall return plan, undergraduate students who are invited to return to campus in Fall 2020 must live on campus if they want access to campus.

Will undergraduates who live on campus in Fall 2020 be housed one to a room? And if they are, will they be charged a single-room rate?

To better enable physical distancing and to protect the health of individual students and residential communities, doubles, triples, and quads in MIT’s undergraduate residence halls will be converted to singles.

However, rates will be set at the 2020-21 double-room rate for each house, and the total cost will be prorated based on the shortened time on campus. All housing and dining costs will be included in students’ financial aid awards.

How will the undergraduate building and room assignments process work in Fall 2020?

Now that the fall plans have been announced, Housing & Residential Services (HRS), Residential Education, DormCon, room assignment chairs (RACs), area directors, and house operations managers will develop and implement the building and room assignment processes. The process will look different due to the lower density of students in residences and the compressed timeline. HRS will work with the house teams and RACs to make room assignments at the local level. Details about the housing process and how to apply have been communicated to students invited to campus.

Will MIT provide emergency housing for students who cannot leave campus when the fall semester ends?

Yes, but we will ask students to submit requests to the Student Housing Assistance Review Process (SHARP), and we will work with students on a case-by-case basis. Students who remain in emergency housing over breaks should anticipate moving to consolidated housing for the duration of the break.

What is MIT’s plan for FSILGs in Fall 2020?

As in the spring and summer, FSILGs will be closed to undergraduate residents for the Fall 2020 semester. Graduate resident advisors and graduate students who have been living in an FSILG may continue to do so. MIT will work with FSILG alumni to subsidize costs for house operations so they can resume operations when it is safe to do so.

The FSILG Office will continue to work virtually with the FSILG governing councils, chapter presidents, and ILG students to advance their organizational programs and initiatives. FSILG student leaders are already planning for remote recruitment programs that will be complemented by in-person programs when all students can return to campus.

I am a senior who has signed a lease and wants to access MIT’s campus this fall. What are my options?

Accessing MIT’s campus requires students to live on campus this fall. MIT’s Off-Campus Housing Office has put together helpful directions on how you can potentially sublet, assign, or terminate your lease. For more details, and contact information, please visit the Division of Student Life Fall 2020 website.

We understand that some students may be unable to sublet and therefore may have additional costs if moving on campus while maintaining a lease for three months. The Covid-era grant is intended to address a range of financial uncertainties our students will face, including this situation.

Will all undergraduates living on campus in Fall 2020 be required to be on an MIT meal plan? How much will a meal plan cost, and will other food options be available? How will dining services work?

Out of an abundance of caution and following safe food-handling and enhanced cleaning guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the state public health department, all undergraduates living on campus will be required to purchase a 14-meal-per-week meal plan. To defray the cost, all undergraduates living on campus will receive a Covid subsidy of $1,300 for the fall term meal plan, bringing the total cost down from $3,200 to $1,900. So that students can supplement the 14 meals per week, the dining allowance offered in the financial aid award calculation will be $2,500 per semester – higher than the $1,900 cost of the meal plan.

TechMart, MIT’s at-cost grocery, will open after relocating to a new facility on campus, and LaVerde’s in the Student Center and several retail eateries across campus are expected to be open. These facilities will only be available to community members granted access to campus.

Dining service for undergraduates will be a combination of take-out and sit-down, depending on availability of seating in the residential dining halls, the Student Center’s Lobdell Dining Hall, and some house common spaces. Students who take their meals in dining halls will be required to maintain proper physical distancing and wear face coverings except while at their tables.

Lobdell will serve breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday, and an east-side daytime dining location may open. Dinner will be served in the five residential dining halls seven nights a week, with brunch service on weekends. Where necessary, dinner and brunch will be delivered and served from a common space to cook-for-yourself communities. Additional serving locations and times may be added as necessary. Students may pre-order meals and reserve a dining hall table using a mobile application that will be announced soon.

Will cook-for-yourself undergraduate communities have everyday access to kitchens?

No. Due to limited kitchen space, the communal nature of cook-for-yourself communities, and requirements necessary to maintain physical distancing and enhanced cleaning, floor kitchens and country kitchens in undergraduate residence halls will remain closed to everyday use.

In special circumstances, such as baking someone a birthday cake, undergraduate students may request to use a floor kitchen through the event registration system. Prior to reserving a floor kitchen, students will be required to complete a food safety and physical distancing training course. Cleaners will sanitize all kitchen spaces and communal cookware before each reservation, and use of the kitchen will be limited to the students who made the kitchen reservation.

Research

What do graduate students need to know about the research ramp-up?

MIT announced on May 20, 2020 that as part of the research ramp-up, invited graduate students could participate in a safe, gradual return to campus research. President Reif’s June 17 letter reiterated this guidance.

As the ramp-up progresses, and as part of their department-approved on-campus research plans and in keeping with the research ramp-up guidelines, PIs and supervisors will be allowed to invite additional graduate students whose research requires use of on-campus facilities to access certain buildings.

Graduate students invited to conduct research on campus must complete the requirements for returning to campus and obtain a valid Covid Pass (using MIT's daily health monitoring app) to access the buildings designated by their PI/Supervisor.  These requirements include:

  • Signing a form acknowledging risks of return and requirements to be on campus.
  • Completing the required EHS training.
  • Completing a daily health attestation.

Each COVID Pass is good for 25 hours and requires a daily health attestation for building admittance.

Athletics, physical education, wellness, and recreation

What is the plan for MIT’s Fall 2020 varsity athletics program?

To eliminate the possibility of transmission and infection during games and matches, MIT will not participate in athletic competitions during the Fall 2020 season. Institutions around the country in Division III have announced similar decisions.

A final decision about winter sports has not been made yet. Winter sports athletes and coaches should be aware that, if the winter season does in fact move forward, it would begin no earlier than January 1, 2021. Decisions about winter and spring varsity sports will be made in accordance with guidance from federal, state, and local health authorities, as well as any scheduling directives from the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC), the Patriot League (women’s openweight crew), and the United Volleyball Conference (men’s volleyball).

What is the impact of MIT's decision for Fall 2020 on intramural and club sports?

Due to concerns about public health and safety, MIT club sports will not participate in athletic competitions during the Fall 2020 semester. Options for club sports and intramurals will be reviewed based on student demographics and prevailing health and safety guidelines.

Will DAPER recreation facilities be open this fall?

Yes. DAPER recreation facilities will begin a phased reopening of outdoor spaces in mid-July, and indoor spaces are projected to reopen in September in accordance with CDC and MIT health and safety protocols. To meet these protocols and to make it possible for guests to maintain physical distancing, the operational capacity of DAPER facilities will be limited significantly. Facility access will be restricted to only those members of the MIT community who are permitted to be on campus.

Can physical education requirements be completed remotely?

Yes. DAPER will offer live and recorded online options for students to complete the coursework needed to fulfill their Physical Education and Wellness General Institute Requirement, including the swim test. DAPER will provide more information regarding course offerings soon.

Will DAPER be offering virtual programming?

DAPER will continue to provide a wide variety of virtual programming and activities for the MIT community throughout the academic year. For example, MIT Recreation will offer virtual group exercise classes.

Student Support Services assembled this list of wellness promotion resources which includes online programs through DAPER, Community Wellness, MIT Medical, MindHandHeart, and more.

International students

Where can international students and scholars go for the latest information?

The International Students Office and the International Scholars Office are providing up-to-date information concerning travel restrictions and visas.

What is MIT doing to support international students who cannot return due to travel or visa restrictions?

MIT continues to follow developments concerning the U.S. Department of State and the continued suspension of visa services at most U.S. embassies and consulates abroad. In addition, we continue to be in contact with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (USDHS) regarding clarification of policies concerning international student study in the Fall 2020 term.   

Once the U.S. Department of State resumes visa services at U.S. embassies and consulates abroad, we understand that visa processing may not allow students who have been invited to return to campus to arrive at MIT by the start of the fall term. Visa restrictions from Presidential Proclamations that apply to entry to the U.S. from certain countries may also delay arrival. Students will be able to begin their fall term coursework remotely until they secure their visas and meet requirements to arrive to campus. 

The MIT International Students Office will work with each student eligible to enter the U.S. to coordinate the necessary visa documentation for arrival to campus, even if there will be delays in arriving by the start of the Fall 2020 semester or if arrival to campus will be in the Spring 2021 semester. 

International students with questions may contact their ISO advisor as well as consult additional guidance to be posted on the ISO Updates webpage.

What steps do students seeking remote appointments need to be aware of?

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, MIT may have students with paid appointments (UROPs, RAs, TAs, fellows, etc.) in foreign countries. With the summer term underway and fall term approaching, MIT has developed a framework for allowing eligible students to proceed with anticipated summer and/or fall appointments from outside the US. In general, the framework consists of a list of general eligibility criteria, submission of an intake form, review by a team of representatives from several MIT offices, and decision by the dean and/or the vice president for research. For more, please visit Guidance on remote student appointments performed outside the U.S.

Travel and visitors

Will MIT-sponsored travel be allowed in Fall 2020?

We do not know yet. MIT suspended all MIT-sponsored student international or domestic travel for the summer. A planning group is now in the process of developing travel guidance for the fall semester and will make recommendations about:

  • Travel by staff, faculty, and students.
  • Local, domestic, and international travel.
  • MIT-sponsored and personal travel.
  • Related requirements and processes for travel registration, high-risk waiver applications, post-travel quarantine, etc.

The group is in the process of drafting recommendations and plans to update the MIT community in the near future.

Will visitors be allowed on campus this fall?

Most visitors external to the MIT community will not be permitted on campus this fall, except those who are essential for MIT to conduct critical research and education activities and the vital services that support those endeavors. Campus visitor exception policies for Fall 2020 were released on July 27, 2020.

Updates log

August 2, 2020

Academics
Updated answers for:
Q. Which MIT classes will be offered online in Fall 2020, and which classes will have in-person elements? When will registration open and close?
Q. How will grading work in Fall 2020?

Requests to live on campus, deferrals, and leaves of absence
Updated answers for:
Q. Will MIT have a process for students to seek assistance with on-campus and off-campus housing? How will that process work?
Q. What is the decision deadline for first-year undergraduate deferrals? Can incoming first-year undergraduate students defer for only the fall semester?

Cost of attendance and financial aid
Updated answers for:
Q. I am not able to live at home. What do I do?
Q. I cannot live at home and I can’t live on-campus. What should I do?
Q. When will I receive my revised financial aid award?

Housing and dining
Updated answers for:
Q. What agreements and community expectations will students who live in on-campus housing in Fall 2020 have to sign and follow?
Q. How will the undergraduate building and room assignments process work in Fall 2020?

International
Updated answer for:
Q. What is MIT doing to support international students who cannot return due to travel or visa restrictions?

Travel and visitors
Updated answer for:
Q. Will visitors be allowed on campus this fall?

July 24, 2020

Academics
New question:
Q. Is cross-registration permitted this fall?

July 23, 2020

Health and medical care on campus
Updated answer for:
Q. Will enrolled students not living on campus but who are living nearby be able to access MIT Medical? Can they schedule a Covid-19 test at MIT Medical?

July 20, 2020

Academics
Revised wording for this question:
Q. I will be classified as a junior in the fall term and a senior in the spring term. Will I be able to study on campus at all this year?

July 18, 2020

Academics
Updated answers for:
Q. Which MIT classes will be offered online in Fall 2020, and which classes will have in-person elements? When will registration open and close?
Q. How will grading work in Fall 2020?

Requests to live on campus, deferrals, and leaves of absence
Updated answer for:
Q. Will MIT have a process for students to seek assistance with on-campus and off-campus housing? How will that process work?

Cost of attendance and financial aid
Updated answer to the housing allowance section of:
Q. What is MIT doing to support students and families in the 2020-21 academic year, and their investment in an MIT education?
Updated answer for:
Q. I cannot live at home and I can’t live on-campus. What should I do?

July 14, 2020

Cost of attendance and financial aid
Updated answers for:
Q. What is MIT doing to support students and families in the 2020-21 academic year, and their investment in an MIT education?
Q. If I receive financial aid, will I be expected to work as part of my award this year?
Q. When will I receive my revised financial aid award?

New questions:
Q. Student Financial Services has calculated my financial aid award presuming one semester on campus and one semester off campus. What if that is not the case for me?
Q. I am not able to live at home. What do I do?
Q. I want to live off campus, but my financial aid package isn’t enough. How will MIT help me?
Q. I am a senior who has signed a lease and wants to access MIT’s campus this fall. What are my options?
Q. If I have already received a financial aid award, will my aid change?
Q. If my family’s income has changed, can I appeal my financial aid award?
Q. What if I have extenuating circumstances and I need more financial support?

Housing and dining
New question:
Q. I am a senior who has signed a lease and wants to access MIT’s campus this fall. What are my options?

July 13, 2020

Academics
New questions:
Q. How does MIT determine if I am a senior?
Q. I am in an MEng program and so have concurrent graduate and undergraduate status. What will my housing options be?
Q. I accepted early sophomore standing, so I will be a junior in the fall term and a senior in the spring term. Will I be able to study on campus at all this year?

July 9, 2020

What life on campus will be like
Updated answer for:
Q: When and where will I be required to wear a face covering?