Chancellor May sitting at desk writing a letter

Coronavirus Update for Incoming Fall 2020 Students

Welcome to UC Davis! I am so pleased that you are making plans to join us in the fall. Building connections with undergraduates like you is a highlight of being the chancellor at our top-ranked public research university.

I’m sure you are wondering what college will look like for you. After all, your final weeks of high school and senior year celebrations were already disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. I commend you for pushing forward. So, I encourage you to keep planning for a bright future that includes interactive learning, career exploration and an amazing college experience.

At UC Davis, we work daily with state and county public health officials, and with the University of California Office of the President to follow evolving directives related to the pandemic. Your first year at UC Davis will likely be different than you imagined, but we are ready to support you every step of the way in your college journey.

Fall Quarter Planning

UC Davis operates on the quarter system, with fall 2020 classes starting September 30. That is later than some colleges on the semester system who have already announced their plans. With our later start date in mind, we are planning for multiple scenarios, including offering in-person classes in fall 2020, if possible. These decisions will depend on the state of the pandemic and will be based on advice from public health authorities and experts.

With few exceptions, we anticipate that course offerings will be available remotely for students who cannot be accommodated in physical classroom spaces due to the fall health directives. This would also apply to those who need to remain isolated due to preexisting health conditions or other considerations.

Thus, we anticipate that our instructional plan will enable substantial flexibility that supports student learning and degree progress. Students who cannot physically join us on campus because of travel restrictions or the inability to obtain a student visa will also be able to learn remotely. We will provide more updates about the status of fall instruction in mid-June.

Getting Started

Our three-part Orientation program is already underway, with Aggie 101 available online to all freshmen who have submitted their Statement of Intent to Register (SIR) to UC Davis. Please complete Aggie 101, if you haven’t already. You will find resources for your academic, personal and social growth, and be introduced to the support available to you at UC Davis. You can access Aggie 101 through MyAdmissions.

Aggie Advising and class registration—which are already planned as online activities—will take place over the summer. As you complete these orientation steps, you can look forward to more information about the final step, Aggie Orientation. Aggie Orientation will help you build support networks with fellow Aggies that include new and current students, faculty, and staff, and discover how you can contribute to our diverse community.

We know you also have questions about where you will live, the cost of tuition and fees, and how financial aid can help. Here are some things we can tell you now:

Housing: Our Student Housing and Dining Services team is planning for multiple scenarios that will allow students to live on campus this fall while keeping the safety and health of all as the top priority. While the extension of our original housing application deadline has passed, if you still need housing, please contact Student Housing and Dining Services about your options.

We know it’s hard to make decisions during this time. However, you can be assured that we will refund housing reservation fees if contracts need to be canceled due to the pandemic. Please see our FAQs related to housing or reach out to the Student Housing and Dining Services office directly through email at

Financial aid: Our Financial Aid and Scholarships office is working hard to make sure all students have the financial aid they need in these changing times. Our office will consider revisions to individual financial aid offers for families who have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. An appeal form will be available in July.

For now, families can use our Financial Aid Estimator to see what a revised financial aid package might look like based on present situations. You can see our FAQs related to financial aid, or you can reach out to the Financial Aid and Scholarships office directly through Contact an Expert.

Tuition and fees: Tuition and mandatory fees have been set regardless of the method of instruction. They will not be refunded in the event that instruction occurs remotely for any part of the 2020–21 academic year.

We know that remote instruction, or a hybrid of remote and in-person instruction, is different from the traditional college experience that you’ve been looking forward to for so long. We are working hard, as are you and your family, to adjust to the current situation and carry forward our mission of teaching, research and public service in these difficult times. Professors continue to teach and direct essential research activities. Staff continue to provide, and in many cases have increased, our support services to meet the needs of students during the coronavirus pandemic.

I am proud to highlight that many of our fees support student services that have been approved through our student government. These services will continue to be offered despite the coronavirus pandemic. As always, all UC Davis students will continue to receive a world-class education that prepares them for the careers of the future. This comprehensive education is needed more than ever as the world changes and adapts to current challenges.

Looking Ahead

While the coronavirus pandemic changes our world and impacts all of our lives, at UC Davis we also see opportunities to expand our teaching, knowledge, research and creativity during this time. I am encouraged to know that you will be bringing your voice and ideas to our campus as we continue to be at the forefront of conversations about human and animal health, food and agriculture, climate change, engineering and the environment, social change and creative expression. These conversations are more critical than ever.

I am confident that you will receive the highest level of instruction and support as you begin your college experience with us this fall. I encourage you to learn more about how we are adapting and growing as a university, how our faculty have embraced remote learning options and how we are supporting students. You can also watch video updates that my wife, LeShelle, and I give to campus every Friday to get a better idea of how the Aggie community is rallying together during this time.

UC Davis is a place where classmates help each other succeed. That attitude of support spreads across our campus as students, faculty and staff collaborate to find success for everyone in our community. Our collective response to the coronavirus pandemic is no different. We will get through this, together. Go Ags!


Gary S. May

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