Coronavirus FAQ - Students

On this page, you will find Question and Answer sections regarding health and wellness, residence halls, academics, dining services, federal work study, events, financial aid, parking/transportation, visitation, international students, commencement, graduation, and communication.

Coronavirus News and Information Faculty and Staff FAQ Bison in the Know

Q&A: Student Refunds

Am I eligible for a refund?

If you have paid more than 70% of your lab fees, housing*, meals and/or parking charge, you will receive a refund in the amount of excess payments received.  If you have paid less than 70% of these charges, your outstanding balance owed will be reduced accordingly.

*The housing refund policy will apply to students who were housed in Towers East and West, College Halls North and South, Drew Hall, Cook Hall, Tubman Quadrangle, and Bethune Annex during the Spring 2020 semester. Because “The Axis” is managed as an apartment building and residents have signed contracts that are not limited to a single semester, residents have not been required to vacate their apartments and therefore are not eligible for refunds. Any students placed in “The Axis” due to overflow and who have not signed a lease contract are eligible for refunds. 

The refund notification said that the student activity fees, and graduation fees would be refunded. Why are these fees not part of my refund?

The Student Activity Fee was not assessed on your account for the Spring 2020 semester.  As there was no student activity fee charge, no refund or adjustment will be issued.

Graduation fees are only applied to a student’s account when she/he has met their curriculum requirements and have been cleared for graduation.  If you are a graduating senior, your graduation fee will be waived.

How and when will I receive my refund?

Refunds will be processed by the end of April.

Students who participate in Direct Deposit will receive their refund in the bank account listed in BisonWeb within 3 - 5 business days from the date listed on their Bison e-Pay account. Our goal is to support you through this challenging time. You are strongly encouraged to take advantage of the Direct Deposit feature. It only takes a few minutes to enroll and can make a huge difference in how quickly you receive your funds. 

If you are an international student, or if you do not have a bank account, please contact the Office of the Bursar at bursarhelp@howard.edu.

I have a meal plan. What will my refund be?

The semester meal plan rate will be reduced by 30%, triggering a refund for any payments received in excess of 70%.  If you have purchased the Dining Dollars Only Plan or added Incremental Dining Dollars to your meal plan, you will be refunded the current remaining balance in full.

I am on the payment plan. Is my final April payment still due?

Yes.  We plan to have refundable charges reduced before the due date, which will also reduce the final payment.  Please check your BisonWeb account to confirm the payment amount due.  If the adjustment has not yet posted to your student account, a refund of the difference will be returned to you. 

How do I set up or verify my direct deposit information on file?

To review, change or set up your direct deposit information, go to: Bison Web -> Student Services -> Student Accounts -> Direct Deposit.

 

Students are required to enter bank account information (account number and routing number) for which they are designated as the primary account holder.

Students are responsible for updating accurate bank account information.

Direct deposit can be transmitted to U.S. bank accounts only.

How can I check what my refund is?

You may view the details of your refund in Bison Web by clicking on the Student Services tab -> Student Accounts -> Direct Deposit. All refunds will be processed by the end of April if accurate banking information has been uploaded to BisonWeb.  

My bill was partially paid through a combination of Federal grants and Federal loans. Will I be refunded this portion of my bill?

Yes.  As we are continuing online instruction, your cost of attendance will not change.  If you were awarded Federal grants and/or loans covering your refundable charges, it will be included in your refund to cover your off-campus expenses.   

Examples of Federal grants include Pell, SEOG, and TEACH.  Examples of Federal loans include Federal Direct Loan (Subsidized), Federal Direct Loan (Unsubsidized), Direct Parents PLUS Loan and Federal Grad/Professional PLUS Direct Loan. 

For additional information on coronavirus, please visit https://studentaid.gov/announcements-events/coronavirus.

What is institutional aid?

Institutional aid is Howard provided financial aid and employee benefits used to reduce charges.  Examples of Howard provided financial aid include (but not limited to) Bison STEM awards, Capstone Scholarships, Founders Scholarships, Opportunity Grants, Presidential Scholarships, Leadership Scholarships, Athletic Scholarships, Supplemental Assistance Grants, GRACE Grants, Need-Based Grants and Remission of Tuition.

Why is institutional aid not being refunded?

As institutional aid is a reduction of charges, it is not refundable. If institutional aid was applied as payment to a refundable charge, the institutional aid will be withheld from the refund. Any excess credit will be refunded to the student.

I still have an outstanding balance on my student account. Will my charges be reduced?

Yes. If you have an outstanding balance, your charge for lab fees, room, board and parking is being reduced by 30%. Your outstanding balance will be reduced accordingly.

I was not able to take all my belongings from my on-campus room with me when I left campus. Am I still eligible for a refund?

Yes.  We recognize that many of you did not have enough time to completely vacate your rooms prior to leaving campus.  You will still receive either a 30% reduced charge if you have an outstanding balance, or refund of payments received in excess of 70% of the full semester charge.  Information will be sent out soon regarding returning to campus to reclaim belongings left behind.  For further information, please submit inquiries to StudentAffairs@howard.edu and we will respond as quickly as possible.

I am unable to participate in Housing selection because I still have an outstanding housing balance on my student account. Can I still participate?

Your housing charges are being reduced by 30%, so your outstanding balance will be reduced accordingly. In order to participate in Housing Selection, you must have paid the reduced housing charge and completed all the required deadlines such as the March 6th deposit deadline and the March 24th application deadline.

Who do I contact if I have questions about my refund?

Please contact the Office of the Bursar via email at bursarhelp@howard.edu for questions about the refund process.  Please include your name and student ID# in the subject line.

 

Who do I contact if I have questions about additional financial assistance?

We understand that there may be some students that need financial assistance or have questions about this process. Please submit those inquiries to StudentAffairs@howard.edu and we will respond as quickly as possible.

Q&A: Health & Wellness

What will happen if someone gets the Coronavirus while on campus?

Howard University  and Howard University Hospital are prepared to advise and treat anyone who is affected by the coronavirus (COVID 19).  Our infectious diseases experts work closely with the DC health department and are following the guidelines and recommendations of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention for assessment, isolation and testing and treatment.  Howard University Hospital is a designated coronavirus treatment facility.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Symptoms of the virus appear to be consistent with those of respiratory illness: fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

What should I do if I feel sick?

All who are ill – no matter the cause – are encouraged to stay home and communicate by phone or email to provide notice (professors, advisors, student health, etc.) that you are sick. 

All registered and insured Howard students have access to our 24-hour telemedicine service www.telehelp4students.com for medical or mental health advice. You may connect via phone, app, or online to speak with a physician or mental health counselor. You can also access the United Healthcare Student Resources (UHCSR) Where for Care website www.uhcsr.com/where4care to receive options on locations that treat specific conditions in this area. If you are not improving or develop difficulty breathing, please call ahead to your provider of choice, including the Student Health Center at 202-806-7540, so that the office can prepare to evaluate you. Your healthcare professional will work with the local public health department and the CDC to determine if you need to be tested.

How does the COVID-19 virus spread?

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Source: CDC

How can I help protect myself?

Visit the COVID-19 Prevention and Treatment page to learn about how to protect yourself from respiratory illnesses, like COVID-19. 

Does CDC recommend the use of facemasks to prevent COVID-19?

Howard University recommends following CDC guidelines. In light of recent studies, the CDC “recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.” For more information, read the CDC’s Recommendation Regarding the Use of Cloth Face Coverings

People who have COVID-19 and show symptoms should wear face masks to protect others from the risk of getting infected. The use of facemasks is crucial for health workers and other people who are taking care of someone infected with COVID-19 in close settings (at home or in a health care facility). 

Am I at risk for COVID-19 from a package I received?

There is still a lot that is unknown about the newly emerged COVID-19 and how it spreads. However, we can use what we know about previous iterations of coronaviruses to guide our assumptions. According to the CDC, there is evidence to suggest that coronavirus may “remain viable for hours to days on surfaces made from a variety of materials.” Therefore, it is recommended that you clean and disinfect visibly dirty surfaces. It is recommended that you follow the CDC’s guidance on cleaning and disinfecting your home.  

I am at risk for coronavirus. What should I do?

If you believe you have come in contact with someone who has been infected, you should self-isolate (14 days), and notify your medical doctor via phone AND the campus health administrators (Student health, residence life). 
If you have symptoms of the flu (aches, fever, coughing, etc.) you should self-isolate and notify the student health center where you will receive further instructions. 

What is social distancing and why is it recommended?

The CDC defines social distancing as "remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet) from others when possible." 
Social distancing is not the same as self-quarantine or isolation, two other practices being utilized to minimize the coronavirus spread. The key difference is that a quarantine or isolation restricts the movement of people within a certain area or zone to limit transferring and spreading an infection. Social distancing places no such locational constraints, rather it is a behavioral practice to lower the risk in most circumstances.

What is Howard doing to sterilize the campus before students return?

Our facilities partner has robust cleaning processes using hospital-grade disinfectants that are proven effective against viruses. In addition to our existing standard operating procedures to clean and sanitize our facilities, we are taking additional precautions to protect our community, including:

  • De-densify the campus.   
  • Conducting overnight, targeted deep cleaning of all campus facilities.
  • Increasing our cleaning rotations to wipe down equipment and hard surfaces more frequently, particularly in high traffic areas.
  • Checking bathrooms and replenishing hand soap and hand sanitizers more frequently, while supplies are available.

I know students who are traveling internationally for spring break.

Students who travel internationally will be required to self-disclose and self-quarantine, then show proof of medical clearance prior to returning to campus.  

Is Alternative Spring Break canceled?

Alternative Spring Break, whether local or otherwise, is canceled. 

Is it okay to travel within the U.S. (domestic travel)?

We are discouraging non-essential domestic travel. 

I’m currently abroad. Should I leave?

The University is daily monitoring CDC and Department of State guidance regarding students studying abroad. Several Study Abroad partners are providing or developing online courses to transition students whose programs are canceled. We are also requesting that this be made available to students who voluntarily depart from programs. We await a formal response to this request from the various vendors. If students wish to voluntarily depart from a current study abroad program, the University will assist and provide support for these students. Please keep abreast of updates as we are reviewing circumstances daily.

I’m in a study abroad program outside of a Level 3 area, but I want to come home.

The University has either closed study abroad in all Level 3 countries or directed students to return home.  If students wish to voluntarily depart from remaining study abroad sites, the University will assist and provide support for these students.

Are University sponsored and personal International travel restricted at this time?

We have placed restrictions on University-sponsored international and domestic travel for students, faculty and staff. We also discourage personal international travel currently.

Why might people stigmatize, blame or avoid individuals and groups (create stigma) because of COVID-19?

People in the U.S. may be worried or anxious about friends and relatives who are living in or visiting areas where COVID-19 is spreading, which is reasonable. However, it is not reasonable or acceptable to allow that fear and anxiety to lead to social stigma towards Chinese people, other Asian Americans, people who were in quarantine, or anyone else.

Stigma is discrimination against an identifiable group of people, a place, or a nation. Stigma about COVID-19 is associated with a lack of knowledge about how the virus spreads, a need to blame someone, fears about disease and death, and gossip that spreads rumors and myths. Stigma hurts everyone by creating more fear or anger towards ordinary people instead of the virus that is causing the problem.

How can people help stop stigma related to COVID-19?

People can fight stigma and help others by providing social support. Counter stigma by learning and sharing facts. Communicating the facts that viruses do not target specific racial or ethnic groups and explaining how COVID-19 actually spreads can help stop the stigma. 

What procedure should I follow if I am experiencing harassment or discrimination?

Howard University reiterates its commitment to maintaining an educational, working, and living environment that is free from all forms of discrimination and where every member can thrive. We all must be supportive, respectful, and inclusive of the members of our community who are affected by this global issue. Coronavirus is not specific to any ethnicity or race, and Howard University is committed to ensuring no one in our community is ostracized, bullied, or mistreated due to ignorance around this disease. We're proud to report that the vast majority of our population has met this challenge with patience and understanding. 

If any member of our community believes they have experienced harassment or discrimination, we encourage them to report it to Benn Johnson, director of Student Conduct and Community Standards located at 2205 4th Street NW, Washington, DC 20059. You may also reach us at (202) 806-6131 or email us at lawan.laniersmith@howard.edu. University staff may contact MacKenzie Jordan, senior manager of Training and Development, at MJordan@Howard.edu. We hope that all of our bison understand that we are stronger together and actively support each other during this global health crisis. 

I am experiencing anxiety. Where can I get help?

Students on campus, here are resources that can help: 

  • During Spring Break the HUCS Crisis Line (202-345-6709) will operate on a 24/7 basis 
  • After Spring Break, HUCS plans to open, there may be modifications contingent upon updated information University-wide 
  • The HUCS Crisis Line will continue to operate after Spring Break 

Students off campus should utilize the UnitedHealthcare Student Resources Telemedicine services (https://www.telehelp4students.com/).

Here are some self-help resources: 

If you are in crisis - call 911 immediately for assistance. 

 

Q&A: Residence Halls

What is our recommendation for off-campus housing with roommates?

The University recommends following the CDC guidelines concerning self-isolation and encourage students to return home.

I was unable to return before the residence halls closed to get my things, when can I get my stuff?

Students who departed for Spring Break destinations prior to retrieving their belongings should not return to campus. All University Residence Halls were locked and secured on Sunday, March 22nd at 11:59 PM. The Office of Residence Life will communicate an action plan for students to retrieve items at a later date. 

Q&A: Academics

I am an enrolled student. Some of my classes cannot be done online. How will I take my labs?

Please communicate with your individual academic department chairs and faculty to see how lab instruction will be covered. 

I am enrolled student. I have never taken an online course. Is there a tutorial for how to take an online course?

To take an online or remote course, be prepared to view your instructor providing instruction through Blackboard, Zoom, Google Hangout, or other similar access. Coursework could heavily rely on assessments/exams that are taken online, and assignments that need to be submitted, while some assignments will be discussion board posts. Communication will largely be through email and chat. Make sure your computer and web browsers meet the system requirements for Blackboard.

I am enrolled student. I do not have Wi-Fi at home. Are there any resources available for me to access courses online?

A number of telecommunication companies are offering free, or greatly discounted internet service for students around the country;

If you do not have access to Wi-Fi at home, and cannot take advantage of the offers above, please inform the Student Affairs staff in your school or college, so that we can provide resources to assist, where possible.

I am enrolled student. I do not have a laptop or personal computer at home. How can I access online classes?

Currently, all classes are being offered online. Blackboard can be accessed using a mobile device. If you have trouble accessing online instruction,  please contact your department chair or the Office of the Provost for additional instruction.

I am enrolled student. I am not seeing my course on Blackboard. What should I do?

Please contact the Office of the Registrar for assistance: Registrar@howard.edu

My professor says they are cancelling classes, until classes resume face to face. How will I ensure my grade is fair?

Please communicate this to the Department Chair or Dean, and Registrar’s office. Courses are being moved to online or remote instruction. It may be necessary to postpone some laboratory, performance-based, or other complex course that cannot be converted to online instruction. 

How will online classes affect international students’ I-20 and visa status?

The Department of Education has shown flexibility regarding how institutions address COVID-19 concerns, including the use of online instructional delivery for F-1 students. We do not anticipate a negative impact on a student’s F-1 status due to online instruction. For safety reasons, we are discouraging students from conducting international travel at this time. If you travel internationally, you will be required to disclose this to the Office of Student Affairs, and to Howard University health officials. 

What will happen to study abroad students?

The University is daily monitoring CDC and Department of State guidance regarding students studying abroad. At this time, we have directed students studying abroad in Europe and sites in Asia to return home. Several Study Abroad partners are providing or developing online courses to transition students whose programs are canceled. We are also requesting that this be made available to students who voluntarily depart from programs. We await a formal response to this request from the various vendors. If students wish to voluntarily depart from remaining study abroad sites, the University will assist and provide support for these students. Please keep abreast of updates as we are reviewing circumstances daily.

Is Howard University still sponsoring Alternative Spring Break?

Alternative Spring Break, whether local, or otherwise, is canceled.

I am working with a local ASB site in the District of Columbia. Can I still go to participate?

Alternative Spring Break, whether local, or otherwise, is canceled.

How can I get training to teach online?

Please email CETLA@howard.edu and/or visit their website CETLA.howard.edu. Training is ongoing this week, we will also post very brief training videos for faculty to use Blackboard, Zoom, and other platforms used at the University

Do I need to be certified to teach online?

At this point, we are waiving the comprehensive CETLA certification, but faculty should still participate in the additional trainings being provided.

Will the University increase Help Desk support for faculty and students?

Yes, we are increasing Help Desk staffing to accommodate the shift to online format.

I am professor. I am not seeing my course on Blackboard. What should I do?

Ensure that you are listed as the instructor of record for the course via BisonWeb. 
a.    If you are listed as the instructor of record, please submit a ticket to helpdesk@howard.edu for further assistance.
b.    If you are not listed as the instructor of record, please contact your department chair for assistance
      i. Department Chairs are responsible for submitting course schedule updates to the Office of the Registrar. Once received we will make the necessary changes in Banner. There is an automatic feed from Banner to Blackboard that runs at specific times throughout the day to update any changes. 
 

Q&A: International Students

What will happen to study abroad students?

The University is daily monitoring CDC and Department of State guidance regarding students studying abroad. At this time, we have directed students studying abroad in Europe and sites in Asia to return home. Several Study Abroad partners are providing or developing online courses to transition students whose programs are canceled. We are also requesting that this be made available to students who voluntarily depart from programs. We await a formal response to this request from the various vendors. If students wish to voluntarily depart from remaining study abroad sites, the University will assist and provide support for these students. Please keep abreast of updates as we are reviewing circumstances daily.

Is the iLab open for students to use while classes are online?

The ILab will be closed for the semester beginning March 23, 2020.

Q&A: Commencement and Graduating Students

Is Howard having commencement exercises?

As of March 16, Commencement and All-Class Reunions are canceled. Howard University will plan alternative graduation options for HU20. 

Video: Howard University Will Plan Alternative Graduation Options for HU20

How will this affect Commencement and other large events?

As of March 16, Commencement and All-Class Reunions are canceled. Howard University will plan alternative graduation options for HU20. On March 15, the CDC issued recommendations that for the next 8 weeks, organizers cancel or post-pone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States. Although the CDC states that this does not apply to the day to day operations of institutions of higher education, we do not consider commencement a day to day operation. Given that Howard’s Commencement activities garner crowds of thousands, and the numerous elders and children regularly in attendance, we will cancel the event to avoid the potential for additional virus spread which would be problematic.

Q&A: Federal Work Study

Can I continue my federal work study during the time that classes are moved online?

The Department of Education has made allowances for Federal Work Study (FWS) students to continue receiving their FWS wages while classes are moved to an online medium. You do not have to be physically present on campus to continue receiving your FWS wages. Likewise, even if you are not able to complete all of your responsibilities remotely, you will continue receiving your FWS wages. The University will share specific instructions on pay periods and documentation required to track disbursements via email. Your safety is our number one priority.

Q&A: Events, Meetings, Gatherings & Conferences

Will Howard still host Chapel services in Cramton Auditorium?

Yes. Beginning on March 29, the Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel Sunday Speaker Series will be held on Sundays at 11:00 a.m. on the Rankin Chapel YouTube channel.

Is Springfest canceled?

All University gatherings of 50 or more people are canceled, including Springfest. 

Should I cancel my on-campus event or meeting being held before April 6th?

Yes, all on-campus events or meetings should be cancelled or moved to a virtual format, secondary to guidance from the CDC limiting the number of persons who should be gathered together.

What is considered a large gathering?

The CDC recommends that events of any size be canceled in places where there is a substantial spread of the coronavirus. As a result, all campus events have been canceled.

What is the plan for Commencement and the All-Class Reunions?

As of March 16, Commencement and All-Class Reunions are canceled. Howard University will plan alternative graduation options for HU20. Please continue to monitor all communication from Howard University for updates regarding graduation.

What is the plan for Accepted Student Day? Will the event be held on campus?

This year, we are excited to welcome the Class of 2024 to our vibrant campus community through our virtual Accepted Student Day event. An on-campus event will not be held. We are confident that our program will provide you with an opportunity to learn more about our student support resources, interact with faculty, ask questions, and get a taste of Howard's culture before joining us in the fall.
 
Further details on our virtual Accepted Student Day event will be available by the end of this month. In the meantime, we invite you to log into your Accepted Student website to view all pertinent enrollment information. Through this site, you will be able to view your sample class schedules, explore potential career pathways, and utilize a helpful checklist tool to keep track of your next steps in the enrollment process. We also invite you to share what you would like to see during our virtual ASD event by utilizing the hashtags #HUASD #HU24.

When are meeting cancelations effective?

Meeting cancelations are effective immediately. 

Will Howard still host athletic events?

Please visit the following page to learn details concerning athletic events. 

Q&A: Financial Aid, Admissions & Bursar

Will I be able talk to the offices of Financial Aid, Registrar and Student Accounts?

The office of Financial Aid, Registrar and Student Accounts will service students online or via phone. They can be reached by contacting General Customer Service at 855-490-2875 or by contacting the respective offices at the following email addresses. 
Office of Financial Aid: finaid@howard.edu 
Office of the Registrar: registrar@howard.edu
Office of Student Accounts: bursarhelp@howard.edu and thirdparty@howard.edu. 
Staff will be available to respond. 

I am a student in HU-24, how will I get answers to the questions I have?

The Office of Admissions can be contacted at 800-822-6363 or admission@howard.edu.

Q&A: Parking & Transportation

Will I able to use the shuttle service during spring semester?

Since the University has moved to an online platform, the shuttle service will not run until face to face classes resume. 

Will I be able to continue to park on campus?

Yes, all campus stakeholders that have parking passes will be allowed to park on campus using their respective parking tags. 

Q&A: Visitors

Are visitors allowed on campus?

At this time, all non-essential campus visits are being disallowed until further notice. 

Will my group’s campus tour still take place?

Howard University tours have been canceled for the rest of the semester. We will update you when tours are reinstated. 

Who can I speak to concerning a question I have?

Howard University’s customer service can be reached at (855) 490-2875, Monday through Friday from 8:30AM – 5:00PM. 

Are visitors allowed in the cafeteria?

At this time, no visitors are allowed in the cafeteria. 

Q&A: Miscellaneous

Where do I find more information on all the campus updates the University has provided?

https://home.howard.edu/corona-virus

I have not gotten any University updates via email. How can I join the list serv?

Please check all of your electronic mailboxes. That means junk mail, focused, spam and other mailboxes as well. Also, check messages from the Office of University Communications, etc.

Alumni: What can we do to help our students?

The university is deeply touched by the heartfelt response from our alumni during the COVID-19 crisis. We invite all Howard alumni to contribute to the HUAA Emergency Scholarship Fund. Donations to this fund will provide need-based scholarships to prospective May graduates of ALL 13 schools and colleges. Visit the HUAA Emergency Scholarship Fund donation page now. 

Parents: Where can I see regular updates from the campus?

There are many ways for our parents to receive campus updates. They can join the Parent’s Advisory Council on Twitter or via their list serv. 
The Office of Student Affairs sends all campus updates to parents via email. 
Lastly, all campus announcements are housed on a special COVID-19 site located at:
 https://home.howard.edu/corona-virus