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The COVID-19 effect on admissions & funding


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Quoting myself and updating for folks who messaged me to show support. The university that rescinded all the offers because of COVID19 has actually contacted me to ask me if I would consider atte

A few users on here have asked (or speculated) about the potential impact/consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on polisci PhD admissions and funding. Others, myself included, have been wondering if t

To anyone who is now afraid to post on here: Please do not be. I (and others) truly welcome your perspective, input and thoughts on this. It's ok to speculate. It's ok to talk about your fears, concer

1 hour ago, 2020PhD said:

I got accepted to the phd program at OSU but I have not heard anything about funding yet. How can I approach to the institution?

I would recommend a politely phrased email or timely phone call to one of the administrators listed here. https://polisci.osu.edu/people

I recommend that you treat individual staff members with respect and an abundance of empathy. While you are rightly concerned with your funding for next year, these individuals are likely concerned about losing their jobs and all that entails.

 

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1 hour ago, 2020PhD said:

I got accepted to the phd program at OSU but I have not heard anything about funding yet. How can I approach to the institution?

What Sigaba said. Also, congratulations on your acceptance! Great program/school :)

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1 hour ago, raduan said:

Going along @2020PhD question, does anybody know whether is it normal for programs to change what they offer to you initially?

Usually this should only happen if you're being offered a fellowship or something better than your current funding package. I think it's theoretically possible for some programs to be changing offers with respect to covid, but nothing about covid is normal and I wouldn't consider that kind of change under the umbrella of normal. If any program is reducing their offer (with or without covid), they should be named and shamed. 

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5 hours ago, raduan said:

Going along @2020PhD question, does anybody know whether is it normal for programs to change what they offer to you initially?

It’s a good question to ask your DGS/POI before accepting an offer. Really depends on the school and what the stipend policies are for the university. Usually the university and the graduate school have some sort of guidelines, and then departments can either use those or something more then those. It is important to read your offer letter careful and figure out if all five years are guaranteed, what the conditions of maintaining funding are, etc. 

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Posting the following because I've not seen it mentioned. For context, this pertains to an Ivy programme. 

A trusted advisor who's in a position to know told me that now is the time to get all assurances in writing, just in case (even though, as someone mentioned somewhere, jumping into the ring to challenge withdrawals of offers would be a very difficult strategy). Before I accepted my offer, I emailed the department to get written confirmation that everything we were being offered would hold. (I phrased this politely and as tactfully as I could! It helps to say something like 'this is my understanding of the situation; could you let me know if I'm mistaken in any way?') The TL;DR is that I did get that written confirmation, so things look good. 

The details, because I think they're helpful points for identifying what should count as a good response and what we should be more wary about:

  • My point of contact with the dept replied promptly to say that, to the best of her/his understanding, my appraisal of the situation was correct. (This is good – already one step in the direction of a written confirmation)
  • This faculty member also copied in the DGS and the Dept Chair and told me that s/he had asked them to provide any further guidance they could on the matter. The Chair had also decided to ask the School administration for more information. (Taking all this in good faith, this is even better – the cc'ed faculty members are in a better position to know.)
  • After not hearing back for a week or so, I politely emailed again to ask for updates. Faculty member replied saying it was an affirmative from both the DGS and Chair. (Great ending – for now.)

Fwiw (also haven't seen people mention this), I'd take tenured faculty's opinions of the funding situation with a pinch of salt and take my pointers from tenure-track / non-tenure-track faculty members any day. At least in my limited experience, the former may be well-meaning, but often too chirpy and unrealistically optimistic about things like funding. Again, they may mean well and I appreciate that, but I like it when my advice comes with real, grounded assessments of reality!

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On 5/4/2020 at 2:24 AM, polsci2020 said:

Posting the following because I've not seen it mentioned. For context, this pertains to an Ivy programme. 

A trusted advisor who's in a position to know told me that now is the time to get all assurances in writing, just in case (even though, as someone mentioned somewhere, jumping into the ring to challenge withdrawals of offers would be a very difficult strategy). Before I accepted my offer, I emailed the department to get written confirmation that everything we were being offered would hold. (I phrased this politely and as tactfully as I could! It helps to say something like 'this is my understanding of the situation; could you let me know if I'm mistaken in any way?') The TL;DR is that I did get that written confirmation, so things look good. 

The details, because I think they're helpful points for identifying what should count as a good response and what we should be more wary about:

  • My point of contact with the dept replied promptly to say that, to the best of her/his understanding, my appraisal of the situation was correct. (This is good – already one step in the direction of a written confirmation)
  • This faculty member also copied in the DGS and the Dept Chair and told me that s/he had asked them to provide any further guidance they could on the matter. The Chair had also decided to ask the School administration for more information. (Taking all this in good faith, this is even better – the cc'ed faculty members are in a better position to know.)
  • After not hearing back for a week or so, I politely emailed again to ask for updates. Faculty member replied saying it was an affirmative from both the DGS and Chair. (Great ending – for now.)

Fwiw (also haven't seen people mention this), I'd take tenured faculty's opinions of the funding situation with a pinch of salt and take my pointers from tenure-track / non-tenure-track faculty members any day. At least in my limited experience, the former may be well-meaning, but often too chirpy and unrealistically optimistic about things like funding. Again, they may mean well and I appreciate that, but I like it when my advice comes with real, grounded assessments of reality!

Sorry but... didnt quite get what you are trying to say. 

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7 hours ago, needanoffersobad said:

Sorry but... didnt quite get what you are trying to say. 

I think this user is trying to say that one should attempt to obtain some sort of written confirmation from the DGA/DGS in his/her/their future department ensuring that his/her/their offer still stands in light of the current situation. Unless one's original acceptance letter or university GS website includes a line about the circumstances under which a decision could be revoked, I wouldn't worry too much about this. 

I, for example, spoke with my DGA before April 15 about the materials that I need to submit in order to accept my offer, and he told me--completely unprompted, I should add--that he hopes to see me on campus in the fall, but at the least over Zoom (i.e., the offer will not be revoked).

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Sharing a link for anyone attending a UC [this is from the UCLA site specifically, but many of the announcements pertain the the entire UC system]: https://newsroom.ucla.edu/stories/coronavirus-information-for-the-ucla-campus-community

 

The latest is that the UCs plan to offer students the option to attend classes remotely, even if said classes are being held in-person, because of travel restrictions etc. That sounds like a reasonable approach—one that doesn't necessitate sticking to a remote-only curriculum until all travel restrictions are lifted. UCLA is also using some of its federal funding to increase eligible students' need-based aid, specifically related to the virus. I imagine other UCs will be doing so as well.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Artifex_Archer said:

Sharing a link for anyone attending a UC [this is from the UCLA site specifically, but many of the announcements pertain the the entire UC system]: https://newsroom.ucla.edu/stories/coronavirus-information-for-the-ucla-campus-community

 

The latest is that the UCs plan to offer students the option to attend classes remotely, even if said classes are being held in-person, because of travel restrictions etc. That sounds like a reasonable approach—one that doesn't necessitate sticking to a remote-only curriculum until all travel restrictions are lifted. UCLA is also using some of its federal funding to increase eligible students' need-based aid, specifically related to the virus. I imagine other UCs will be doing so as well.

"In an email to students, Monroe Gorden Jr., vice chancellor for student affairs, announced UCLA will use a portion of the funding it received from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, to provide $200 awards to all eligible students. In addition to these awards, some of the CARES Act funding will go toward supporting thousands of undergraduate and graduate students who are eligible for need-based federal financial aid. These students will receive increased grant support ranging from $200 to $1,850, depending on their financial need."

This is awesome. California ahead of the game once again. Something is better than nothing. Hoping this catches on elsewhere...

Edited by Paulcg87
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On 4/29/2020 at 6:22 PM, raduan said:

Going along @2020PhD question, does anybody know whether is it normal for programs to change what they offer to you initially?

I ask this by pure curiosity, It was a mix of my boredom and anxiety. I still think it is strange to receive a positive answer so many months before the begin of the classes. I haven't received at the time any info to be afraid of receiving any bad news.

Last week, I got the news that will get some extra money. I was very surprised. My assumption is that they were conservative in accepting people on the waiting list and the real issue with money will happen next cycle.

  

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13 hours ago, Paulcg87 said:

This is awesome. California ahead of the game once again. Something is better than nothing. Hoping this catches on elsewhere...

I think most schools have done this? From my understanding, the CARES ACT provided funding funds for schools and at least half of them need to be sent out directly to students who have been affected by the corona. At the least at the universities that I am affiliated with it has taken its form in a “corona virus fund” or something of a similar name where students apply for grants based on need (moving, medical costs, food, etc) and then receive a check from the university.

if I am understanding the article correctly then UCLA is following the terms of the aid that they received. Unless the article is saying that UCLA is using funds in addition to those specifically stipulated by the CARES ACT.

 

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Posted (edited)
23 hours ago, Dwar said:

I think most schools have done this? From my understanding, the CARES ACT provided funding funds for schools and at least half of them need to be sent out directly to students who have been affected by the corona. At the least at the universities that I am affiliated with it has taken its form in a “corona virus fund” or something of a similar name where students apply for grants based on need (moving, medical costs, food, etc) and then receive a check from the university.

if I am understanding the article correctly then UCLA is following the terms of the aid that they received. Unless the article is saying that UCLA is using funds in addition to those specifically stipulated by the CARES ACT.

 

Heh. I realize I didn't specify where "elsewhere" was but I guess it's all how you look at it. I was referring to schools around the world. Maybe I should have said the "US" rather than "California", if that would make a difference? In Canada at least, there hasn't been coordinated student aid like this (other than federal unemployment benefits for students, which are only available to Canadian citizens/permanent residents, and only for this summer). If all US schools are doing as much as UCLA is doing as per the CARES Act, I'm genuinely impressed. 

Edited by Paulcg87
typo
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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, Paulcg87 said:

I was referring to schools around the world.

Ooooohhhhhh, my bad. That makes sense. TBH I’m kinda surprised that the US is actually being more proactive about university support then other places.  

Edited by Dwar
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3 hours ago, Dwar said:

Ooooohhhhhh, my bad. That makes sense. TBH I’m kinda surprised that the US is actually being more proactive about university support then other places.  

No problem. I understand that this is a very US-centric forum, and that the majority of users are Americans, so most users interpret what I'm saying from an American perspective. I should have clarified for that reason.

And yes, it does seem that the US is being very proactive when it comes to this, comparatively speaking. I do not think many American students realize or appreciate this. 

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From what I understand, the UC leadership and student government are still in talks about what to do this fall. Anecdotally, most of the people I know who know things [I said it was anecdotal...], whether faculty or students, want classes to be conducted in-person ASAP. Fingers crossed.

Yeah, California's not necessarily always ahead of the game on all of the things. And lest we get too excited about any of the CARES funding—which would be great, if it were sourced differently—I'm not super pumped about bearing the inflationary fallout that comes from a helicopter money drop leaving a crater-sized hole in the economy. But deficit monetization is a heck of a drug.

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Posted (edited)

International update: Cambridge (UK) has cancelled most in-person classes for the next year, and will offer streaming lectures until summer 2021, but will allow teaching in small groups: https://www.cbc.ca/news/world/cambridge-university-lectures-cancelled-1.5576617

For Canada, so far it seems it will be partly to entirely online for fall 2020 depending on the school. UBC is offering "selected smaller classes" in person and the rest online, UVic will be "predominately" online, and Simon Fraser will be 100% online. In eastern Canada, every school who has issued an official statement on the matter has said their classes will be mostly or fully online, including Ryerson, York, McGill and Dalhousie. For the most part, I think this is good news in that smaller graduate courses will likely be allowed in person/on campus. 

For the University of Toronto, no official word yet but students received an email from the university leadership last week that hinted at a hybrid online/in person model for this fall. The University of Toronto Faculty Association (UTFA) has a very interesting page on faculty grievances about the current and anticipated workload ( https://www.utfa.org/content/fall-term-workload-issues-utfa-will-take-three-pronged-approach). The page states that faculty in some units/departments are pushing for 100% online instruction for the fall; it also advocates for greater TA support.

Edited by Paulcg87
Added UTFA link
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Posted (edited)
On 5/15/2020 at 11:49 PM, Artifex_Archer said:

From what I understand, the UC leadership and student government are still in talks about what to do this fall. Anecdotally, most of the people I know who know things [I said it was anecdotal...], whether faculty or students, want classes to be conducted in-person ASAP. Fingers crossed.

Yeah, California's not necessarily always ahead of the game on all of the things. And lest we get too excited about any of the CARES funding—which would be great, if it were sourced differently—I'm not super pumped about bearing the inflationary fallout that comes from a helicopter money drop leaving a crater-sized hole in the economy. But deficit monetization is a heck of a drug.

Fair enough. Digressing to something unrelated to CARES, I just saw that the University of California announced it will be ending the current testing (SAT/ACT) requirements for undergraduate admissions at all of its campuses. We are living in interesting times. 

Edited by Paulcg87
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14 hours ago, needanoffersobad said:

Any international students would like to share how your visa application goes so far? Future plans on learning remotely? 

The American embassy still closed here. Considering that here (Brazil) seems to be the next epidemic center, I don’t know whether I will be able to get the visa to the Fall semester. 


On the plus side, if the classes go online and I stayed here and receive my stipend, I will be rich due to our currency value is diminishing to the dollar.  

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Posted (edited)
6 minutes ago, raduan said:

The American embassy still closed here. Considering that here (Brazil) seems to be the next epidemic center, I don’t know whether I will be able to get the visa to the Fall semester. 


On the plus side, if the classes go online and I stayed here and receive my stipend, I will be rich due to our currency value is diminishing to the dollar.  

In my case, if classes go online I won't be able to enter the US even if I have an F1 visa, which means my TA/RA stipend is not safe either.

This is an advice for international students who might be reading this: get an external scholarship/funding source if possible, like Fulbright and etc. I've been told numerous times that whether an international applicant had an external funding or not was one of the critical factors of some university's admission decisions. It'll be even more so this year due to the situation.

Edited by horololo
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