COVID-19 Study Abroad FAQs

For Current Study Abroad Students

Where can I find the most up-to-date information on Cornell policies related to the coronavirus?

Consult Cornell’s Coronavirus Resources and Updates and FAQ pages. A COVID-19 Immigration FAQ is also available. For information on the Cornell Tech campus, please visit Cornell Tech's COVID-19 Updates.

Academics

If I leave my program, how will I finish my semester?

If you are a U.S. citizen planning to depart your abroad program, and the program is providing distance learning, it is expected that you will select this academic path to complete the semester.

International students have different circumstances due to visa requirements. See the next question below.

You should not fully withdraw from your abroad program until distance learning options have been assessed, and you and your college have formulated a plan.

You must maintain full-time enrollment status for financial aid eligibility. To fulfill the requirement of full-time enrollment status, you must stay enrolled in your abroad program even while taking online courses through Cornell.

You must maintain full-time enrollment status for financial aid eligibility. To fulfill this requirement, you must stay enrolled in your abroad program even while taking online courses through Cornell.

Your college will accept credits earned from distance learning coursework completed through your abroad program. The credits should meet the usual eligibility criteria as defined by your college unless you are told otherwise. For all academic questions, your college student services or advising office is your key point of contact.

College of Business

Andrea Poag
Director of Student Services, Dyson School
alp232@cornell.edu

Dina Krisof
Director of Student Services, Hotel School
dre2@cornell.edu

Amanda Shaw
Director of Student Services, College of Business, contact for Johnson MBA students
afs6@cornell.edu

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Jess Hawkey
Assistant Director of Academic Exchange & International Engagement
jh2652@cornell.edu

College of Arts and Sciences

Margaret (Peggy) Parmenter
Advising Dean
mrp246@cornell.edu

College of Art, Architecture and Planning

Andrew Meis
College Registrar
ajm484@cornell.edu

School of Industrial and Labor Relations

Tamara Ingram
Assistant Director of International Programs
tsi4@cornell.edu

College of Engineering

Ryan Delany
Assistant Director of Advising
rd525@cornell.edu


What is the grade option policy for spring 2020 study abroad students?

Cornell has outlined a process for spring 2020 study abroad and exchange students to receive S/U grades on their Cornell transcripts and/or to drop a study abroad course if they request a change in grading option by May 12, the same deadline given for Cornell students in formerly Ithaca-based courses.


How do I request the S/U grade change and/or drop an abroad course?


If you wish to change your study abroad courses to the S/U option or if you have withdrawn from a course abroad, you will need to login to your abroad application portal and click on your specific program application. Under “Electronic Submissions” you will find a new item, “Spring 2020 Grade Options,” where you can request to change the grading option and/or inform us of any courses you will be dropping.  Remember you should stay at or above 12 Cornell credits for a full semester load.  As always, please bring any questions about academic credit or your path to graduation to your college advisor.


Will Cornell accept S/U grades on my transcript from my abroad institution?
  • Yes, for this semester only, Cornell will accept S/U grades on an abroad transcript.
  • “Pass/Fail” grades are acceptable as long as they represent the equivalent of a “C-“ or higher.  This is an exception to the normal policy that requires the equivalent of a “C” or higher for abroad grades to count for Cornell credit.
  • This does not affect your total # of S/U grades that you are able to take at Cornell.
  • S/U grades for this semester can be used to fulfill college and major requirements, with the approval from you college/major.

Can Cornell put an “S/U” grade on my Cornell transcript even if the institution gives me a letter grade?
  • Yes, if you ask Cornell by the deadline given to Cornell students, May 12, to change a grade option to S/U.
  • Login to your abroad application portal to complete a questionnaire requesting us to change the grade option to S/U.
  • You will receive the grades as they appear on your abroad transcript, unless you request the S/U option by May 12.

Can I have some of my Spring 20 courses S/U and others for a letter grade?
  • Unfortunately, we can only make all grades S/U or letter, depending on your response by May 12.
  • Some programs have blocks or multiple terms within a semester; students who have earned letter grades for a block unaffected by COVID-19 will have letter grades for that period even if they choose S/U for the later block(s)/term.

If I choose to have my study abroad courses appear on my transcript with the letter grade, will these letter grades factor into my Cornell GPA?
  • No, whether you choose to have your study abroad courses appear on your transcript with a letter grade or as S/U, grades for study abroad courses will not be factored into your Cornell GPA.

If I have already received permission from my college advisor to drop or withdraw from one of my study abroad courses, do I still need to fill out the questionnaire by May 12?

Yes 


Can I make this change via Student Center?

No.  Please indicate your grade option choice and any course withdrawals via the abroad application portal.


If I withdraw from a course, will it show on my Cornell transcript?
  • Cornell will post to your Cornell transcript all courses that appear on your abroad transcript.
  • You can inform Cornell that you are dropping a course (as long as you maintain 12 credits) by logging into your abroad application portal  before May 12.
  • If you receive a W or an F for a course that we know you dropped by Cornell’s May 12 deadline, it will show as “W*” or “U*” with a note that it was dropped with Cornell’s permission.

Will there be some kind of note on my transcript indicating that my semester was disrupted by COVID-19?

Every transcript will include a notation that explains the anomalies associated with the Spring 2020 semester.


Is there anything else I should know about changing from a letter grade to S/U?
  • Since the S/U option is widespread, many schools and programs are agreeing to accept S/U grades when they would normally expect to see a letter grade.
  • Some graduate and professional schools are reporting that they will accept an S/U grade if it was mandatory and you had no option to receive a letter grade, but would consider it differently for students who had the option to receive a letter grade.
  • If a graduate school or organization asks for your abroad transcript in addition to your Cornell transcript, they will still see your letter grades if they appear on the original abroad transcript even if the S/U is on the Cornell transcript.

Who should I talk to about my options for the semester?

For all academic questions, your college or school student services or advising office is the initial point of contact for support. In the majority of cases, the best academic outcome for an early departure from your program will be the distance learning options provided by your study abroad program or university.

College of Business

Andrea Poag
Director of Student Services, Dyson School
alp232@cornell.edu

Dina Krisof
Director of Student Services, Hotel School
dre2@cornell.edu

Amanda Shaw
Director of Student Services, College of Business, contact for Johnson MBA students
afs6@cornell.edu

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Jess Hawkey
Assistant Director of Academic Exchange & International Engagement
jh2652@cornell.edu

College of Arts and Sciences

Margaret (Peggy) Parmenter
Advising Dean
mrp246@cornell.edu

College of Art, Architecture and Planning

Andrew Meis
College Registrar
ajm484@cornell.edu

School of Industrial and Labor Relations

Tamara Ingram
Assistant Director of International Programs
tsi4@cornell.edu

College of Engineering

Ryan Delany
Assistant Director of Advising
rd525@cornell.edu


Will I be charged tuition for Cornell online coursework taken to complete the spring 2020 semester?

You will not be charged for any enrollment in online Cornell classes intended to substitute for your study abroad curriculum.


I am an international student participating in a study abroad program. How would departing my program affect my visa status as it relates to enrollment status?

If you are an F-1 student with valid travel documents (e.g., valid passport, I-20, and F-1 visa stamp), you can return to the United States mid-semester—if you are returning to fully enrolled student status.

International students are normally restricted to no more than 3 credit hours of distance learning per semester. Given the current COVID-19 situation, the U.S. government has issued guidance allowing for temporary flexibility for remote or online learning, provided you make standard progress in a full course of study (12-credit hour minimum for undergraduates). As such, online or remote learning for the remainder of the semester will not negatively impact your F-1 status. Read more COVID-19 Immigration FAQs.

You may also choose to go back to your home country, but you may need to apply for a new I-20 and F-1 visa stamp before reentering the United States. Wherever you are, all the online courses you take can count toward your degree.

International students should contact International Services with any additional visa-related concerns or questions.

Travel and Departure Considerations

I received the survey link to indicate my intent to remain or depart. I have decided to stay abroad. If I should change my mind later, for any reason, how will Cornell support my academics and return?

We recently requested that students let us know by March 13 what they would like to do. If you completed the survey and noted that you wish to remain on your program and have changed your mind, please fill out the survey again. Your latest response will be treated as the most accurate response. Of course, you may leave your program at any time but should understand the consequences of that decision.

After March 13, it will become more difficult for Cornell to provide Cornell online instruction options. We would rely on your abroad program to assist in offering distance learning, which is likely to be forthcoming but not guaranteed. 


Are there any situations where Cornell would require me to return to the U.S.?

To date, Cornell has not required any traveler to return to the United States, including travelers in CDC Level 3 countries. Cornell’s decisions are made with the health and safety of the Cornell community in mind and taking into account new developments. We do not foresee a situation where Cornell would require travelers to return against their will. However, we reserve the right to respond to changing circumstances.


If I stay, should I be concerned about travel restrictions/quarantine now or in the future?

With the rising case-load across Europe, there may well be city-wide, national, or even regional travel restrictions. It is hard to predict these ahead of time, but you should expect travel to be challenging for some time. As outbreaks occur, updated restrictions and quarantines are a possibility. In most cases to date, returning to the U.S. has been possible for all U.S. citizens. As this can change, you should remain flexible in your travel plans and be prepared for 14-day quarantines—either in your present location or upon arrival in the U.S.


The CDC’s risk assessment for all of Europe is now Level 3 Avoid Nonessential Travel, and there is a Level 2 global travel advisory. Is Cornell going to recall all study abroad students like other universities?

Not at this time. Cornell students are allowed to decide if they want to return to the U.S. (or home country) and work with their academic unit to finish the semester or remain in their study abroad program location.  Students should assess their capacity to be well in their locations in the context of widespread restriction on travel and balance that with the disappointment and challenges of returning to their permanent residence.


How does the ban on travel from Europe, the UK, and Ireland affect students studying abroad?

The policy bans travel from Europe (defined as the Schengen Area) for foreign nationals who were physically present within the Schengen Area during the 14-days preceding their entry, effective Friday, March 13, 2020. The ban expanded to include the UK and Ireland on Monday, March 18, 2020.

This travel ban does not apply to U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents of the U.S.

If you decide to fly from Europe or a high-risk area to the United States you must fly into one of the 13 international airports with enhanced entry screening capabilities. Please anticipate that you may be asked to self-quarantine for 14 days or may be subject to additional airport evaluation and screening, even if you are a U.S. citizen. Read more about these restrictions and procedures on The Department of State website


What should I do in an emergency?

In a life-threatening emergency, travelers should call the local equivalent to 911 or seek assistance from local authorities.

For non-life-threatening emergencies, we partner with ISOS, a travel assistance provider. ISOS is available 24/7 for advice and guidance from medical and security professionals via their assistance centers by calling 1-215-942-8478. Visit Cornell's International SOS online portal to find destination information, learn more about health and safety conditions, download your membership card, install the mobile app, and learn all the partnership has to offer. Call before, during, and after travel at +1-215-942-8478 and reference your membership number: 11BSCA827281

We also encourage you to visit the CDC’s Coronavirus Disease 2019 Information for Travel for guidance on healthy travel and in the weeks ahead.


Can I return to Ithaca or get housing on campus?

Cornell is asking students returning to the United States not to return to Ithaca. You will need to complete your semester remotely off-campus—preferably at your permanent residence. All of Cornell’s student community is moving to online learning beginning April 6, so campus activities will be severely limited.

Only students with extraordinary circumstances will be considered for support with housing accommodations on campus. Please contact vpscl@cornell.edu to petition.

If your permanent home address is Ithaca or Tompkins County, you certainly may return. However, note that if you are returning to Ithaca or elsewhere in the U.S. from a level 3 country, you will be required to either self-quarantine or be subject to a mandatory government-imposed quarantine (if symptomatic) a minimum of 14 days. Non-U.S. citizens are expected to quarantine outside of these destinations before attempting to enter the U.S. During this period, you may not be on campus. Cornell Student and Campus Life offers resources and support to self-quarantine.

Financial

Who should I contact with questions about my abroad tuition/fees and housing in terms of refund or reimbursement requests?

Partial refunds of tuition or program fees for students completing their semester via distance learning with the abroad partner or institution are unlikely. For students whose programs have been suspended without partner-provided distance learning options, Education Abroad will reach out to your program, contact our office to assess. In some cases, but not all, pro-rated housing refunds are possible. Where students secured their housing on their own, the responsibility lies with the student to engage with the landlord or property owner regarding all housing questions and concerns.


What about my flight costs or change fees to get home and other related expenses that were unanticipated? Is Cornell reimbursing students?

We realize that for some students, financial hardship may be a barrier to going to another place of residence for the remainder of the semester. The Access Fund may be a resource for undergraduate students who need financial support for travel. Please email for more information.

Cornell is not reimbursing or paying for return flights as this is a natural component of traveling abroad but, your academic unit or host may be able to assist. If you want to return sooner than planned to the United States or your home country, we recommend contacting the airline and inquire about a change fee or new booking.

As more flight restrictions are put in place, you may find a return home will require multiple layovers or selecting from limited options. If you find yourself unable to make these arrangements on your own, please reach out to International Travel Safety, and we will explore options. We are monitoring the flight-booking situation and also investigating alternate possibilities.

Continuing Support

Who can I talk to about this impactful and life-altering experience?

We recognize that for many students the experience of departing and the COVID-19 impacts on their study abroad semester were not only significant but extremely stressful and unnerving. We strongly encourage you to seek support from family, friends, and other loved ones. At the same, if you need someone to hear you out and help you process the experience, we want you to find the professional support you need. Please reach out to Cornell Health. When you return, you can also speak with a licensed therapist from ProtoCall, Cornell’s 24/7 support team of mental health professionals, by calling 607-255-5155 (#2).


I loved being abroad and am upset that I missed the rest of my time here; can I go abroad again another year?

We know this has been a great disappointment and interruption for students. At the same time, we hope you can to celebrate the many wonderful memories of your abroad experience. Despite your early departure, your global learning journey can continue! While much depends on your academic progress, do reach out to us for guidance. We are excited to help you explore other global opportunities, both at home and abroad.

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