University of Pennsylvania

Penn Tells Students to Stay Home Amid Coronavirus, Offers Tuition Cuts

With "an enormous sense of sadness," University of Pennsylvania leadership announced that they won't be offering most undergraduates housing this fall

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What to Know

  • The University of Pennsylvania has changed course about having undergraduates return to campus amid coronavirus this fall.
  • The Ivy League school had planned on testing students upon arrival but said its plan no longer makes sense.
  • With campus closed to most students, Penn is offering some tuition relief.

The University of Pennsylvania is telling students to mostly stay away from campus this fall as the Philadelphia university won’t be offering most undergraduates housing and, with the exception of certain instruction, won’t be holding activities on campus due to coronavirus.

University President Amy Gutmann and other school leaders expressed “an enormous sense of sadness” while making the announcement Tuesday in a statement posted to the Ivy League university’s website.

Penn had planned to test students for COVID-19 upon arrival and other coronavirus-related safety measures to bring students back to campus as part of its learning model. But the testing regimen wasn’t possible, school leaders said.

“Unfortunately, COVID-19 continues to spread at an alarming rate across the country, with approximately 2 million new cases reported over just the past month,” school leaders said in their post. “The progression of the disease is evident in many states from which Penn welcomes thousands of students. The sheer number of students who by Pennsylvania public health recommendation would now upon arrival—or based upon testing or high-risk exposure—need to go into a two-week quarantine is untenable.”

With the exceptions of some international students and students facing housing hardships, Penn won’t be offering university housing to undergraduates.

“For the safety of students and the broader community, we are encouraging all other students not to return to Philadelphia,” Penn leaders said.

The Penn Board of Trustees supports the housing changes based on advice from Penn Medicine experts, the university said.

The university had already planned for a vast majority of instruction to be online with exceptions for clinical experiences and other in-person requirements. Graduate and professional programs can individually decide operations for the fall.

Penn acknowledged that students might not be happy to be told to stay home.

“While we have great confidence in the high quality of this educational and college life experience, we deeply regret that these changes represent a significant disappointment to families and students.”

In response to going virtual, Penn is offering students a tuition reduction. Fall tuition will be reduced by 3.9% (to last year's rate) and the general fee will be dropped by 10%. Any dining and housing fees already paid by students will be credited of refunded.

New student orientation will be held virtually and end in a virtual convocation on Aug. 31.

Penn has a list of FAQs posted to its website.

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