Credit: Christina House/Los Angeles Times/Polaris
Cal State University Fullerton student Linh Trinh, 21, right, and her boyfriend Tan Nguyen, 21, walk around a deserted CSUF campus on Tuesday, April 21.
This report was last updated on February 25, 2021

Q: When will colleges reopen for in-person instruction? 

A: Nearly all of the state’s public colleges and universities plan to significantly increase the number of in-person classes for the Fall 2021 academic term.

The California State University Chancellor Joseph I. Castro said the 23-campus system remains committed to returning to in-person instruction by the fall, but repopulating the campuses will depend on the availability of coronavirus vaccine and the advice of medical and public health experts.

The University of California system also is planning for a return to primarily in-person instruction across its 10 campuses this fall. However, specific plans will be announced by individual UC campuses once they coordinate with public health agencies.

The 115 California Community Colleges that offer in-person instruction will continue offering online education and some in-person classes through the spring semester.

Q: Are students living on campus?

Since the onset of the pandemic, most universities across California have limited housing in on-campus dorms to students with special circumstances, such as former foster youth and students who don’t have access to housing away from their universities.

There are some exceptions, however. While not at full capacity, UC San Diego has guaranteed housing this academic year to freshmen, sophomores and transfer students. About 10,000 students are living on that campus, which is more than the number of students living on any other UC or CSU campus.

At Stanford University, campus leaders have invited all juniors and seniors to live on campus during the spring quarter, which begins March 29.

Q: How can students access emergency financial aid Congress approved in the coronavirus relief funding to colleges?

A: Students should contact their campus financial aid office for more details about qualifying or applying for emergency relief.

In December, Congress approved a new round of Covid-19 funds. Of that amount, more than $2.83 billion will go to California’s public and private colleges. Search the EdSource database to learn how much each college or university in California and nationwide received.

Q: What financial aid is available to students?

A: Students should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, or California Dream Act application to apply for state and federal financial aid. The Dream Act application is typically for undocumented students, so they can receive state aid. The statewide deadline for applying for aid is March 2.

Cal Grants are state financial aid awards that don’t need to be paid back and are awarded each year to hundreds of thousands of students at community colleges, as well as CSU, UC and private campuses. 

Q: What if I don’t have internet access, or not reliable access, at my home? 

A: Community college students who don’t have a computer or other device to take classes online should check with their local college for possible laptop loan programs, according to the guidance.

Students who attend a four-year university and don’t have internet at home should check in with officials at their universities.

Q: Has any admissions criteria changed for incoming students?

A: The University of California and California State University systems have relaxed some of their admissions criteria for incoming freshmen and transfer students.

UC and CSU suspended the SAT and ACT requirement for current high school seniors applying for fall 2021 freshman admission. UC then went a step further and abandoned the SAT and ACT exams as a freshman admission requirement in May and may implement a new test requirement by 2025.

Last year, high school seniors were allowed to submit pass/no pass grades in place of traditional letter grades for A-G courses completed in winter, spring or summer 2020. A-G courses are the set of high school classes students must take to be eligible to attend one of the nine UC undergraduate campuses or one of the 23 CSU campuses.

Legislation has also been introduced in the state Assembly that would require CSU to accept pass/no pass grades earned during the 2020-21 academic year for admissions purposes. The bill would encourage UC and private institutions to also accept those grades.

EdSource higher education reporters Ashley A. Smith and Michael Burke contributed to this report. 

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  1. Kitty 1 month ago1 month ago

    I just attempted to have my official transcripts mailed to a California Community College but none of my former colleges will send them until school reopens. Will CCC schools allow digital PDFs to be used for official transcripts? Otherwise, I will not be permitted to enroll.

  2. JL 7 months ago7 months ago

    I don’t envy the people in charge during these pandemic times. I hope the decisions people make prove to be the right ones.

  3. Maude Genigeorgis 7 months ago7 months ago

    I’m concerned: An immune compromised student who is recovering from the covid-19 disease (18 days from on-set) who is no longer having an active infection but who is nevertheless weak is required to return to her university for an “in person” science class for 6 hours or lose that class and therefore the entire year. Your thoughts?

  4. Muvaffak GOZAYDIN 9 months ago9 months ago

    Regarding the cost of online: 1. A course is face to face already. Instructor converts it online. He is paid $30,000 for it. In the next 3 years he had 1,000 enrolled students. Then cost is 30,000/1,000 = $30/person. Servers etc. costs are so small. 2. A course in face to face format stopped and online version is in. Face to face enrollment was 300, online enrollment is 2,000. The cost was in face to … Read More

    Regarding the cost of online:
    1. A course is face to face already. Instructor converts it online. He is paid $30,000 for it. In the next 3 years he had 1,000 enrolled students. Then cost is 30,000/1,000 = $30/person. Servers etc. costs are so small.
    2. A course in face to face format stopped and online version is in. Face to face enrollment was 300, online enrollment is 2,000. The cost was in face to face was $5,000 per person then lost income of face to face is 5,000 x 300 = $1,500,000, the cost of online is zero. Therefore the blended cost will be $1,500.000/2,000 = $750/person. Income lost from face to face must be carried by online. The more online students are the lower the cost of the online course.

  5. Alexis Garcia 11 months ago11 months ago

    How does COVID-19 pandemic affect Private Colleges and Universities? What does that mean for incoming freshmen and those students who are coming back for the Fall Semester?

  6. Traci Alvarez 11 months ago11 months ago

    If classes are going to be online, tuition should be lowered. Zoom teaching is not the same as in-person.


    • Any Student 3 weeks ago3 weeks ago

      Online education is self-paced learning whereas remote instruction necessitated by a pandemic is the same course curriculum as presented in-person by an instructor via zoom instead of being in the same room. Meanwhile, schools must maintain the buildings/infrastructure pending return to in-person instruction while increasing bandwidth and infrastructure for remote-learning, all of which must comply with state/fed law.

  7. Helena Krostag 11 months ago11 months ago

    What about high school students that have committed to a college for sports? Will they be able to attend college in the fall?

  8. Maureen Scharberg 12 months ago12 months ago

    Cal State East Bay has extended our admission deadline to June 1 as well.

  9. Rithika 12 months ago12 months ago

    How will this affect students looking to apply for the academic year 2020?

  10. John Keynes 1 year ago1 year ago

    Covering face is neccesary, too. Home-made masks can help but N95 would be better. Epidemiology.amotx still got stocks of N95 in case any one or organization need it.

  11. Lynn Marten 1 year ago1 year ago

    Can you provide any insight on transfer acceptance notifications? Proximate dates etc.