Fall 2020 Operations FAQs
Q. When will the semester start and end for programs that are managed by The Graduate School?
A. The Graduate School will follow the plan that was described in Carolina Together: The Roadmap for Fall 2020: Classes started on August 10 and final examinations will end on November 24 (no Fall Break).
Q. In light of time lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will The Graduate School grant students an extension of their time to degree?
A. As always, The Graduate School will review requests for extension of time to degree on a case-by-case basis. Students should use this request for extension form and note that these requests should include a timetable/ work plan for completing the degree and the support of their advisor and academic program.
Q. Will the grading, milestone, and degree completion accommodations that were put in place in spring and summer 2020 be continued in the fall semester?
A. The Graduate School is assessing this, together with other units on campus, and will extend the accommodations if warranted. We will notify you if accommodations are extended and will also post that information on our COVID-19 updates webpage.
Q. Will The Graduate School be open during fall 2020?
A. The Graduate School remains open, although some staff members are working remotely to maintain social distancing. We are always available through phone or email. Please contact The Graduate School to make an appointment if you want to meet with someone in person. You will be required to wear a mask during your meeting, in accordance with community standards in Carolina Together: The Roadmap for Fall 2020.
Q. Did The Graduate School hold an orientation for incoming students prior to the start of the fall term?
A. The Graduate School offered a virtual orientation for incoming students. Orientation materials were posted on the Orientation website on August 3, 2020. Incoming students received an “invitation” to orientation. That invitation included an opportunity to submit questions for a graduate student panel and staff of The Graduate School. We addressed those questions in the orientation materials and in a student panel, organized by the Graduate and Professional Student Federation.
Q. How will the COVID-19 pandemic affect student parking?
A. Please see Summer/Fall 2020 Parking for more information. The graduate student lottery for academic year parking passes started on June 17. Please see Academic Year Parking Registration for more information. For new permit holders, virtual permits will be issued that are coordinated through license plate recognition.
Q. How will the COVID-19 pandemic affect transportation?
A. Each transit service manages its own schedule. The Transportation and Parking website has links to up to date information about transit services. Please check their site frequently, as schedules are subject to change.
Q. Do I need to sign an acknowledgement to abide by the public health guidelines and the University’s COVID-19 Community Standards as a condition of my enrollment and campus experience?
Q. Will I be provided with a face mask?
A. The University will provide students, faculty member, and staff member with masks and require that they be worn while on campus. Please see Carolina Together University Guidelines on Face Masks for more information.
Q. My personal circumstances make me concerned about being on campus in fall 2020. Am I required to take in person classes and/or perform my RA or TA duties on campus?
A. Please discuss this with your graduate program and/or the supervisor of your assistantship as soon as possible. The sooner you make your needs known, the more likely your program/ supervisor can work with you to find a way to accommodate them.
Q. With the recent move to online classes, I've had to move and do not have good internet access. Do I qualify for the internet supplement?
A. The Office of Scholarships and Student Aid (OSSA) provides information to assist students who have unexpected financial pressure due to Covid-19. Information can be found on the OSSA website. For graduate students who want to apply for the Internet Supplement that is available, you need to complete the 2020-21 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). If you have not completed the FAFSA, you can do that now, or submit an appeal form (see Fall 2020). International or undocumented students who are unable to complete a FAFSA are not eligible for this supplement, however, they may also submit an appeal form to request funding. For more information, contact the Office of Scholarships and Student Aid (OSSA).
Q. Will the change in semester schedule have any impact on my stipend, in state tuition award, tuition remission, or health insurance?
A. If you are a graduate assistant employed by a department, please talk to your program/ assistantship supervisor about potential changes in your work assignment, stipend, or payment schedule. As in past years, fellowships from The Graduate School are paid as a lump sum on or around the first day of class, August 10. There are no changes in the ways that tuition, tuition remission, and health insurance are administered.
Q. Will the change in semester have any impact on mandatory student fees?
A. There is no change in mandatory student fees for fall 2020. Starting in fall 2019, the University will cover mandatory fees for graduate assistants, fellows, and trainees.
Q. What impact does the shift to remote instruction have on the health insurance mandate?
A. Students who are completely remote and only attending classes via online do not have to take an action to waive out of the mandatory insurance plan. 100% remote students are not required to participate in the mandatory health insurance plan and are therefore not required to waive. The premium will be added to all University student accounts and will be automatically removed for 100% Remote and Carolina Away learners at the end of September. If you want to remove the premium from your University student account before then, you can go to the Student Blue website to waive out. See Campus Health for more details and information.
Q. Will my ability to become classified as a North Carolina resident for tuition purposes be impacted if I am located out-of-state while attending remotely?
A. Please note that the deadline for applying for Fall 2020 residency has been extended to 45 days after the start of the semester. Students must request a residency determination (initial request or reconsideration) via the NC Residency Determination Service (RDS) on or before September 23, 2020 for Fall 2020 tuition to be impacted. Once receiving their determination, students must next enter their unique Residency Certification Number (RCN) in their ConnectCarolina StudentCenter in order for their residency status to be updated and tuition adjusted in campus systems.
While we await guidance from the state of North Carolina as to whether any changes to statutes that govern residency for tuition purposes in light of the pandemic are forthcoming, students working to establish residency are encouraged to take as many residential actions as soon as possible. We know that some actions may be more challenging right now, including making an appointment to obtain a driver license/state identification card via the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), but many residential actions can be taken online, including other DMV actions like registering a motor vehicle and registering to vote in North Carolina.
Graduate School staff will hold virtual residency information sessions for students and faculty/staff this fall to review North Carolina statutes governing residency and to discuss the RDS process in more detail. Specific information regarding dates and registration will be distributed via email.
If you have questions about your specific residency situation or circumstances as a result of the pandemic, please contact Residency Determination Service.
Q. Is a graduate student required to have a service or non-service appointment to be awarded a tuition remission, instate tuition and fee award, and does this apply to both domestic and international students?
A. Yes. Graduate students must have a service or non-service appointment to be awarded a tuition remission, instate tuition and fee award. This applies to both domestic and international students and is our standard policy.
Q. Can an international student who has been unable to get a student visa due to the COVID-19 pandemic enroll in online courses and complete them in their home country?
A. Yes, international students who are outside the U.S. can take online courses. However, we urge students to work with their programs to ensure that coursework is aligned with an appropriate program of study.
Q. Can international students be paid as teaching or research assistants if they are still in their home countries or otherwise outside the U.S.?
A. No, international students must be in the U.S. to be paid as graduate assistan
Departments/schools may seek exceptions to this policy by submitting the exception request form (these requests must come from departments, not individual students). Grounds for exception might include such factors as heavy cost to a program from losing international TAs/RAs, or very low risk of export control concerns in a given discipline. If you elect to request an exception, please be aware of the following:
- Neither your department nor the University can be completely shielded from liability; however, liability can be greatly minimized if the student is employed by a local third party (which would responsible for complying with various local tax and HR obligations). Although the exception process is designed to minimize such risks to the University and to the department, those risks cannot be completely eliminated.
- Tax implications depend largely on the jurisdiction in which the graduate student is residing, with significant variation from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Local tax and HR authorities are often unpredictable and may choose to be strict in enforcing such laws. The University may need to engage a local advisor to examine these risks before considering your request for an exception. In submitting this request, the requesting unit agrees to bear the costs of this inquiry, which is estimated to be between $2,000 and $4,000 per request.
- The University may need to engage a third party Professional Employer Organization (PEO) to help manage the employment of the student and ensure compliance with local tax and HR obligations. This will result in additional costs which will often involve a one-time fee of $2,500 plus at least 30% or more of the normal costs of employing the student. These costs will be borne by the requesting unit if the exception request is approved.
Q. Can international students be paid through non-service appointments if they are outside the U.S.?
A. International students outside the U.S. can accept paid non-service appointments, provided their appointments do not raise export complianceconcerns. Please submit your student's appointment for review using the exception request form.
Q: Can the GeoBlue health insurance plan be offered to international students who remain in their home country?
A: No, the GeoBlue plan is available to domestic students who are studying abroad, or to international students who are physically in the United States.
Q. When will I be allowed to travel out of state to conduct my research?
A. At present, University-affiliated travel is prohibited outside the state of North Carolina). However, you can apply for an exception to travel either within or outside the U.S. Please use the Travel Exception Request to start that process.