Coronavirus FAQ for Students

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Academics - Fall 2020

How will courses be offered in the Fall 2020 semester?

For the fall, your schedule will likely be a combination of courses taught in-person, some courses taught online and some courses that combine those delivery methods. In-person classes will be kept smaller and scheduled to allow for social distancing and proper sanitization. We’re working through the details now, and more information about classes and any schedule changes will be provided to returning students in the coming weeks. After you have received the information it will be important for you to connect with your advisor to understand your options or make any necessary changes. Newly admitted students will receive more information about classes in advance of orientation, where you will work with your advisor on selecting the best options for you. Please continue to check your NIU email for updates.

Added 5/19/20

Will NIU change the grading policy for the Fall 2020 semester?

Although we offered students the option to convert any of their courses to Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) grading for the Spring 2020 semester, traditional grading will return for the Fall 2020 semester. If you have questions about grading, please consult with your academic advisors. Newly admitted students will work with academic advisors during orientation. If you’re not sure who your advisor is, check MYNIU, or contact your advising office. For contact information for each advising office, see How to Register.

Added 5/19/20

Which classes will be in-person this fall? Online? A combination?

We’re working through the details now and more information about classes and any schedule changes this fall will be provided to returning students in the coming weeks. After you have received the information it will be important for you to connect with your advisor to understand your options or make any necessary changes. Newly admitted students will receive more information about classes in advance of orientation, where you will work with your advisor on selecting the best options for you. Please continue to check your NIU email for updates.

Added 5/19/20

Financial - Fall 2020

Will tuition be discounted for Fall 2020?

No. Although our method of delivery is changing to proactively confront the most difficult of circumstances, our faculty continue to teach, and our students will continue to learn and earn credits toward their degrees. The educational experience is different, but the quality and value remain high.

Tuition covers the cost of credit-bearing courses whether they are taken face-to-face or online. For example, tuition for these courses cover faculty salaries, technology resources, and academic support services. At some universities, online courses cost more than face-to-face courses. However, because our commitment to affordability, the NIU undergraduate tuition rate is the same for on-campus and on-line courses.

Added 5/19/20

Will fees be discounted for Fall 2020?

Specific information about fees, along with residence hall pricing, hall selections and dining, will be sent to you the week of June 22. Please continue to check your NIU email account.

Added 5/19/20

Will the Student Emergency Fund be available for Fall 2020?

The Emergency Fund was established to provide assistance to NIU students who have been impacted by COVID-19 or whose circumstances have been exacerbated as a result of the pandemic. To date, over 3,000 students have received support through this fund. The number of requests for emergency funding exceeded the amount of funding available, but thanks in part to generous donors, we will be relaunching the fund on June 1. These funds are designed to help students continue their education; therefore, they are reserved for students who are enrolled in summer or fall courses.

Emergency funds are limited. Students who have not already received assistance from this fund will be given priority consideration. The fund will open on a rolling schedule to accommodate students who have not previously received support. See more details.

Added 5/19/20

Housing and Dining - Fall 2020

Will residence and dining halls be open?

Yes. For those planning to live on campus, we are working to provide each student with an individual room for the 2020-21 academic year in residence halls that provide the best layouts for social distancing and student health. Specific information about pricing, hall selections, dining options and student fees will be sent to you the week of June 22. Please see the FAQs on our Housing and Residential Services website for detailed housing information.

Do I have to live on campus?

In an effort to support your choices about a college experience during unpredictable times, new students who feel most comfortable living at home will not be required to live on campus. For those planning to live on campus, we are working to provide each student with an individual room for the 2020-21 academic year in residence halls that provide the best layouts for social distancing and student health. Specific information about pricing, hall selections, dining and student fees will be sent to you the week of June 22.  Please see the FAQs on our Housing and Residential Services website for detailed housing information.

Added 5/19/20

How will NIU ensure distancing in dining or retail locations?

We’re working through the details now to follow appropriate physical distancing measures when dining halls and eating areas reopen. More information about dining options, along with pricing, hall selection and student fees, will be sent to you the week of June 22. Please continue to check your NIU email account and Campus Dining Services for updates.

Added 5/19/20

How will the dining/eating areas be cleaned and monitored?

Please know our top priority is to protect the health and wellbeing of our entire NIU community. As more functions are allowed to resume on campus, regular cleaning levels will also resume to ensure "high-touch" surfaces in public areas (such as tables, doorknobs, door push plates, light switches, handrails and student desks) are regularly disinfected. The additional hand-sanitizer stations mounted at building entrance areas will continue to provide increased hand-disinfecting opportunities. We’re working through the details now to follow appropriate physical distancing measures when dining halls and eating areas reopen. Specific information about dining options, along with pricing, hall selection and student fees, will be sent to you the week of June 22. Please continue to check your NIU email account and Campus Dining Services for updates.

Added 5/19/20

How are you supporting students who live in off-campus housing?

Students living in off-campus housing should work with their leaseholder to determine what options are available to them. Students’ Legal Assistance (815-753-1701) can assist with students in understanding their rights under leases. If you have questions and aren’t sure who to contact, the Center for Student Assistance (CSA) at 815-753-8300 or via email at studentassistance@niu.edu is also available as a call-in service during this uncertain time. The CSA will help you get connected to support for questions related to off-campus housing, food insecurity needs or legal matters.

Updated 5/19/20

General - Fall 2020

How will NIU support students who live on campus? Will campus operations and services be available?

Campus remains open, and we will continue to have modified services available to you in the fall. We’re working through the details now to develop the right type of programming and resources for our diverse student body this fall while respecting the need to follow appropriate physical distancing measures from public health authorities. More information will be provided in the coming weeks. Please continue to check your NIU email and our Coronavirus Updates page.

Added 5/19/20

Why do I have to wait until June 22, 2020 for more information?

We’d love to be able to provide more information sooner, but we are taking this time to do the due diligence needed to develop the right type of programming and resources for our diverse student body while respecting the need to follow appropriate physical distancing measures from public health authorities. NIU is grateful for your patience as we all define a new path forward. We’re committed to keeping you informed and look forward to helping each of you succeed.

Added 5/19/20

How is NIU making these decisions?

University experts in Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, Housing & Residential Services, Campus Dining, Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, NIU’s Northwestern Medicine Health Center and more are working collaboratively to develop programming and resources to support you while respecting the need to follow appropriate physical distancing measures from public health authorities. While we know that the start of the fall semester will need to look different from last year, we are very committed to making sure that it’s still a personalized, engaging and inclusive experience.

Added 5/19/20

Academics

What if I’m not a good non-face-to-face learner?

We are committed to ensuring your success, and we know that this transition can be challenging. We have developed a Keep Learning website that provides important information about campus resources that you can access at any time. For example, you’ll find online learning tips and online learning tools to help you stay engaged. Read more about assistance and remote learning resources you can turn to for support.

The Keep Learning website will be regularly updated as we receive additional questions. It not only includes important resources, but also contact information should you have technological issues. Remember to contact the Center for Student Assistance if you experience any issues that impact your success. If you need further assistance or you want to discuss your options, please contact your academic adviser. If you’re not sure who your adviser is, check MyNIU, or contact your advising office. For contact information for each advising office, see How to Register.

Added/Updated 3/19/20

What if I'm struggling to reach my professor?

We're ready to help you. If you're having difficulty connecting with your professor, please contact your department chair. If you're not sure who is your department chair, please contact your academic adviser. For contact information for each advising office, see How to Register.

Added/Updated 3/19/20

I rented my textbooks. How will I be able to return them if I’m not on campus this semester?

Accommodation has been made to return rented books by mail if store location is closed or renter is away from campus. Owned books can also be sold back online. See detailed information. Via our Huskie Books and Gear partner, Follett Higher Education, NIU students can access FREE eBook, courseware and shipping programs, as well as deadline extensions, during this time of non-face-to-face learning. This includes free return shipping labels. Visit the campus store website for all programs and more information.

Updated 4/22/20

Summer 2020 coursework, research, artistry and travel

What about summer research, artistry and scholarship for faculty and students?

In the absence of any Illinois stay-at-home order, the university intends to gradually reopen facilities and spaces on campus for research, scholarship and artistry. Toward that end, the Division of Research and Innovations Partnerships, in collaboration with the Return to Research and Graduate Studies Task Force, has created detailed guidance for a phased approach that will require approval processes and specific safety measures. All scholarly activities that have been executed in a remote manner should continue remotely and are unaffected by this guidance. As always, our top priority remains the health, safety and well-being our faculty, staff, students and stakeholders.

Updated 5/14/20

What is NIU’s summer travel policy for faculty, staff and students?

All non-essential, university-sponsored domestic and international travel for faculty, staff and students is prohibited through Aug. 1, at which time the prohibition will be reassessed. Those who believe that they have essential business reasons to travel can request waivers through the Office of the Provost. Please be aware that the issuance of waivers will be rare.

Please also refer to NIU’s International Travel Policy and Procedures, enacted in September 2019, and register your travel, if deemed essential.

Added 4/2/20

Will fall semester coursework continue to be taught virtually?

NIU is preparing for a variety of scenarios to determine options for the scheduling and delivering of fall classes. All considerations and plans will be developed collaboratively over the next 30-60 days, and will be in accordance with the directives from our governor and public health officials.

Updated 4/27/20

Grading Policy - Spring and Summer 2020 only - College of Law

What is the NIU College of Law grading system for spring and summer 2020?

The College of Law has adopted the following grading system for the spring and summer 2020 semesters:

  • Credit with Honors – Instructors can assign this grade to up to 20 percent of the students in a class. This grade can be extended to students who have excelled in classes that would have been graded before the change in policy (i.e. this does not include pass/fail courses such as clinics). Recipients of this grade will receive credit for the course.
  • Credit – This grade will be assigned to students who demonstrate satisfactory mastery of the subject matter. Recipients of this grade will receive credit for the course.
  • No Credit – This grade will be assigned to students who do NOT demonstrate mastery of the subject. Recipients of this grade will NOT receive credit for the course.
    • Students who receive a No-Credit grade in a required course must retake that course.
    • Students who receive a No-Credit grade in an elective course will not earn those credits toward the 90 credits required for graduation.

Updated 4/24/20

What about my seminar or directed research classes?

Students enrolled in a seminar or directed research and seeking to complete their upper-level writing requirement, will satisfy the upper-level writing requirement only if your professor certifies that your work would have been worthy of receiving a grade of C or better (the minimum grade required to satisfy the upper-level writing requirement).

Added 4/1/20

How will this impact students on First-Year Probation?

For 1L students on probation, normally a student must reach a cumulative GPA of 2.2 by the end of the first year.  Because you will not have the opportunity to improve your GPA this semester, we are extending the probationary period to the end of fall 2020.  You will need to earn a minimum 2.4 GPA for the group of courses you take during fall 2020 (your term GPA, not cumulative) and a cumulative GPA of 2.2 by the end of your 2L year in order to be in good academic standing.

Added 4/1/20

Will summer school classes count toward my First-Year Probation?

No. If we offer courses during the summer that are graded, any grades earned during summer school will not be a basis for a student to be removed from probation before the beginning of the fall 2020 semester, but they will be relevant when the student’s cumulative GPA is calculated at the end of the 2L year.

Added 4/1/20

How will this impact class rank?
  • 1L students will not have a class rank calculated until the end of the fall 2020 semester. Courses taken during the summer, if any, will be included in the GPA and ranking calculations.
  • 2Ls will not have their class ranks recalculated until the end of the fall 2020 semester.
  • 3Ls will not have their class ranks recalculated.  Your class rank as of the end of the fall 2019 semester will remain the same.

Added 4/1/20

What is the impact on Required Bar Courses?

Normally, first-year law students who have a GPA below 2.6 at end of their first year are required to take six bar courses during their second and third year. This requirement will still apply based on the GPA earned at the end of first-year students’ first semester.

Added 4/1/20

How will this impact Graduation Awards?

Graduating students will generally graduate with the Latin awards (cum laude, magna cum laude, summa cum laude) based on their cumulative GPA as of the end of the fall 2020 semester.  The administration will also explore the feasibility of taking “Credit with Honors” grades into account when determining whether such awards would be appropriate for students with GPAs very close to the grade cut offs.

Added 4/1/20

What does this mean for final exams?

We know there are a lot of questions about the administration of final exams. We do not have answers yet, but will be turning to this issue next. We will provide law students with information in the upcoming weeks.

Added 4/1/20

Student Employment

I’m a student-worker. Can I keep my job?

Effective today, all work (both on- and off-campus) by undergraduate students will need to cease for the remainder of the semester. The exception to this is for students who choose to continue working remotely on pre-approved grant projects or in housing and dining.

Added/Updated 3/20/20

Where are emails related to my student employment sent?

Emails notification are sent to your student employee email account. This is the account that was created when you because a student employee. It usually begins with a “A1” and ends with “@mail.niu.edu,” A123456@mail.niu.edu, for example. This account and email address is separate from your student Z-ID account. If you need assistance accessing your employee email account, contact the Division of Information Technology at ServiceDesk@niu.edu

Added/Updated 3/25/20

Student Employment - Stipends

Will student employees who are still working continue to be paid?

Undergraduate students who continue to do pre-approved grant-sponsored work, remote tutoring or on-campus work in residence halls and in dining will receive stipends April 15 to cover the remainder of the semester in addition to hourly wages.

Added/Updated 3/23/20

How will student employees receive these stipends?

Most students will receive the stipend via direct deposit. If you do not have direct deposit, we will send your paper paycheck via USPS to your address on record. Please make sure your mailing address is current in the MyNIU Student System by April 5 to ensure that the check is mailed to your current address.

Added/Updated 3/23/20

How will the amount of my stipend be determined?

Your one-time payment will be calculated based on your average hours worked from January 16, 2020, through February 29, 2020. These calculations are specific to each individual undergraduate student employee’s average hours worked, so stipends will not be the same across the board.

Updated 4/9/20

How was my stipend amount calculated?

The one-time payment was calculated based on your average hours worked from January 16, 2020, through February 29, 2020, with the applicable rate of pay. Spring break week (March 8) was omitted as was the time prior to the start of spring semester (January 1-15).

The average hours worked multiplied by your rate of pay (average earnings) was then applied to the pay periods from March 16, 2020, through May 15, 2020 (earlier if the position has an earlier end date).

Example 1

Employee A’s average worked hours from January 16, 2020, through February 29, 2020 was 20 hours. The rate of pay was $9.25 per hour. The employee was scheduled to work through May 15, 2020. The average earnings generated by this employee was $185.00 per pay period, which was then applied to the remaining 4 pay periods, therefore the stipend amount is $740.00.

Average worked hours = 20 hours
Rate of pay = $9.25
Remaining pay periods = 4
Stipend Amount=$740.00 (20 x $9.25 = $185.00 x 4 = $740)

Example 2

Employee B’s average worked hours from January 16, 2020, through February 29, 2020, was 20 hours. The rate of pay was $9.25 per hour. The employee was scheduled to work through April 30, 2020. The average earnings generated by this employee was $185.00 per pay period, which was then applied to the remaining 3 pay periods, therefore the stipend amount is $555.00.

Average worked hours = 20 hours
Rate of pay = $9.25
Remaining pay periods = 3
Stipend Amount=$555.00 (20 x $9.25 = $185.00 x 3 = $555.00)

Added 4/9/20

How were the remainder of the semester pay periods determined?

The announcement to cease student employment was made on March 20, 2020.  March 16 was the beginning of that applicable pay period. The end date was determined by the end of the semester employment date (May 15, 2020 or earlier, according to each position). 

Added 4/9/20

Will my stipend be taxed?

Yes, your stipend is subject to Federal and State tax withholding. The taxes are calculated based on federal and state tax tables, your earnings and your W-4 withholding elections. No adjustments can be made to the amount of taxes withheld from this payment.  Any adjustments would need to be handled through your income tax filing for 2020.

Added 4/9/20

Support and Resources

I don’t know how to get answers to my questions. Is there someone I can contact?

The Center for Student Assistance is available as a call-in service for students. The CSA helps students get connected to support for questions, such as those related to off-campus housing, food insecurity needs or legal matters. Starting Monday, March 23, the CSA will be available remotely at 815-753-8300 or via email at studentassistance@niu.edu. The center also has emergency food assistance available for registered students who are not on a campus meal plan.

Added/Updated 3/20/20

Are University Libraries open?

University Libraries will be closed through the end of the spring semester, after 5 p.m. Friday, March 20.
Please see the guide providing information about library services, resources, research and instruction support during this period. The Ask a Librarian tool, an online chat providing help from librarians will cover normal hours during the spring semester as well.

Added/Updated 3/20/20

Is NIU continuing to offer academic advising services during this time?

Yes. Until further notice, we are offering non-face-to-face advising opportunities. Your academic advisor will reach out to you to make arrangements that work for you. You can contact your advisor as well. Options could include the following:

  • Virtual video conferences.
  • Phone calls.
  • NIU emails.
  • IM chats.

To reduce barriers to registration, all registration holds will be temporarily removed. If you’re not sure who your advisor is, check MYNIU, or contact your advising office. For contact information for each advising office and any additional updates, see How to Register. 

Updated 4/17/20

International Students

Does the modified course delivery impact my status?

Your F-1 and J-1 student status remains valid: According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), temporary, non-face-to-face instruction is allowed in emergency situations. You must still pursue your coursework and maintain normal academic progress.

Updated 3/26/20

Can I return home for the summer?
Given the worldwide uncertainty currently surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, that question remains impossible to answer at this time. Please continue to visit this website for the latest information and updates.
Can I go home?

That’s hard to say. The U.S. and other countries are discouraging unnecessary travel at this time, while some are also encouraging their citizens to return home. However: Because it is impossible to predict the future implications this will have on your visa status, NIU encourages you to remain in DeKalb to complete the semester. That said, International Student and Scholar Services will continue to support you in whatever decision you make.

What should I consider before I make the decision to travel?
  • Modified instruction does not necessarily mean on-demand or self-paced online content. Faculty might conduct virtual lectures at the normal time you would meet for class, which could create challenges for your attendance with time zone differences.
  • Maintaining normal academic progress is your responsibility and required to maintain your visa status.
  • You must check the validity of your F-1 and J-1 visas. Many U.S. consulates have closed their doors for the foreseeable future, which could create complications if you will need a new visa to return for the fall semester.
  • If this is your final semester and you have applied or intend to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT), United States Citizenship and Immigration Services still currently requires you to be inside the U.S. to apply for and receive the OPT benefit. If you want OPT, you should not leave.
  • Make sure to get a travel signature before you depart. International Student and Scholar Services staff are prepared to sign your I-20s right away on a drop-in basis.
Where I can turn for support?

Whether present on campus or working remotely, the staff of NIU International Student and Scholar Services remains committed to advising you on your status; updating and creating documents when needed; and providing you with the most up to date information we have so that you can make informed decisions for yourself.

What if my course can’t be adapted to distance learning? Can I drop my class?

As an international student, your F-1 and J-1 status are dependent on maintaining full-time enrollment. While modified instruction is allowed in emergency situations, USCIS has made it clear that the full-time enrollment requirement remains. Please work with faculty to come up with a solution and notify ISSS that you have these concerns. If no solution is possible, notify ISSS before withdrawing from the course.

Added 3/23/20

Still Need Help?

For general concerns or questions, contact the Center for Student Assistance at studentassistance@niu.edu or 815-753-8300.

For technological concerns contact the Service Desk at servicedesk@niu.edu or or 815-753-8100

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