May 1, 2020
I know many of you are anxiously awaiting answers to a number of questions: What will the fall semester look like? Will students be participating in fall study abroad programs? Should my student sign an apartment lease now for the fall? What do I do if my financial circumstances have been drastically altered? And these are just the tip of the iceberg. The sections below address some of the questions with which you and your family are grappling.
For those of you who participated in the President's Town Hall last week, you know that our intention is to return to on-ground, in-person classes at Tulane in the fall. President Fitts has appointed several committees that are working on the logistics of a fall opening under the ever-changing circumstances of this global pandemic. As the work of these committees yields information that might be useful to you, as parents, we will share that information.
The Office of Study Abroad, through Newcomb-Tulane College, recently sent out a notice to students who intend to study abroad in the fall. The first and, in my mind, most important piece of information in this email is that students have the opportunity to cancel or defer their study abroad experience without penalty right now. This is a good time to decide as a family if you are comfortable with your student participating in study abroad for the fall. You should also decide your level of comfort with ambiguity in this fluid situation. This is important because, while the Office of Study Abroad is monitoring the unfolding COVID-19 situation in all host countries and evaluating safety protocols in each program location in light of the global pandemic, there is no single date on which we will know which programs are moving forward and which are not. Studying abroad in the fall of 2020 will require patience and the ability to be flexible if, in fact, your student's program of choice does not go forward. The entire message from the Office of Study Abroad can be found here. The office will issue another communication on study abroad policy in early June that will hopefully provide more clarity. If your student would like to request a deferral or cancel their study abroad plans, please let the Office of Study Abroad know as soon as possible.
We've heard from many of you who are looking for direction in terms of navigating off-campus lease agreements, both present and future. We are currently working on a survey that will be sent to your student at the end of next week. The purpose of this survey is for us to get a broad understanding of the current housing needs of our off-campus students. We ask that you encourage your student to complete this survey as soon as possible. There is no easy answer regarding whether or not your student should sign a lease for the fall right now. We have a committee that is working on how we can best support our off-campus students through this time. If you have specific questions, please reach out to me.
We recognize that this pandemic has brought significant financial hardship on many of our students and their families. President Fitts has approved plans to augment our existing need-based financial aid offerings for the upcoming 2020-2021 academic year for eligible students who have experienced a significant loss of 2020 calendar year income as a result of COVID-19. Students received an e-mail from Financial Aid this week instructing them to complete a very simple form if they have experienced a significant financial hardship as a result of COVID-19 (defined as an income loss of 15% or more for 2020) and would like to be considered for additional aid. If your student has not mentioned this to you, but you feel your circumstances warrant consideration, please ask them to complete the form.
As always, thank you for your continued patience and support as we work through these complicated issues. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions or feedback.
Dean of Students