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Academic Policy Changes and Individualized Options for Students Announced

By Joseph Hartman, Provost
Michael Graves, Faculty Senate President

We realize that the change from on-campus to remote learning is a significant disruption to your educational experience this semester. In light of this unprecedented situation brought about by COVID-19 (coronavirus), the UMass Lowell faculty have enacted a number of grading and registration policy changes to provide students with more options and flexibility in progressing towards their degrees. These options include a Pass/No-Credit (commonly referred to as Pass/Fail) grading option; extension of the withdrawal period; a delay to the start of fall registration; and other relevant policies, allowing students to individually select the best path forward.
Please read through this letter carefully. The policy changes are designed to help you succeed this semester, and beyond. We strongly suggest discussing these policies with your advisors and faculty mentors before you make any decisions. 
The policy changes are as follows:
1.) The Pass/No-Credit (often referred to as Pass/Fail) grading option may be selected through May 15 for any class. The Pass/No-Credit option provides a “P” on the transcript for any grade of C- or better for undergraduate students, or any grade of C or better for graduate students, and provides a “NC” on the transcript for any grade of D+ or worse.
Selecting P/NC grading for a course does not impact a student’s GPA. While this will not affect pre-requisite requirements or GPA threshold requirements (see additional policy changes below), there may be other implications with this decision. For example, those desiring to attend graduate school, including law school, medical school, dental school, or veterinary school, may be required to or wish to provide grades for certain courses in the application process.
Once the decision to grade a course as P/NC is selected, the decision cannot be reversed, however you can wait until you receive your final grades before making this decision. Please consult with your academic and/or professional advisor, as well as mentors, prospective employers or graduate schools before choosing this option. The option may be chosen for any course (election is by individual course, not semester) through May 15, after the completion of finals. The form will be made available to students beginning on May 1.
2.) Courses requiring a minimum grade in a pre-requisite course will accept a “P” for fall semester registration.
3.) The limit on the number of courses that a student can take Pass/No-Credit is waived for the spring semester.
4.) GPA requirements to remain in a program, including the Honors College, and the University are suspended for the Spring 2020 semester. Thus, those in a program this semester may remain through the Fall 2020 semester, regardless of GPA.
5.) For traditional on-campus courses, the date to withdraw from a course with a “W” has been extended to May 1. This option allows students to reduce the number of credits being taken in order to better manage their course loads in this new learning environment. As more than half of the semester has already been completed, it is suggested that students discuss taking an incomplete, or “INC” grade for a current course with their instructor and advisor, as this may be a better option than withdrawal. If students do choose to withdraw, they should consult with advisors and/or the Solution Center to confirm that their financial aid will not be impacted.
6.) The date to withdraw with a “W” from 8-week online (Session II), 14-week online or 14-week on-campus courses offered by GPS has been extended to May 1.
7.) The date to submit coursework to remove an “INC” grade from the Fall 2019 semester has been extended to May 1 for Spring 2020 graduates and June 1 for all other students.
8.) The date to submit coursework to remove an “INC” grade from the Spring 2020 semester is November 20, 2020. An “INC” grade can be replaced with a letter grade once the uncompleted work has been turned into the original instructor of record. It is advised that students discuss this option with their instructors if they would like extra time to complete this semester.
9.) The registration period for on-campus undergraduate students for Fall 2020 has been delayed to April 21 in order to provide sufficient time for student advising.  The advising period also has been delayed and now will begin on April 13 and run through April 27. Registration for Summer 2020 GPS courses is currently available to all students.
10.) The registration period for graduate students for Fall 2020 will begin April 7.
11.) Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeals for Spring 2020 will be granted. To the extent allowable by the U.S. Department of Education, students will be allowed to use the circumstances surrounding COVID-19 as a valid justification for appeals of their SAP calculation.
12.) A special transcript note will be added for Spring 2020. The note will explain the special measures taken (i.e., remote learning environment) to aid students in their academic progression during this unprecedented health crisis.
13.) Registration requirements for international students will follow U.S. Department of Education policy, as it is made available, in applying any policy adjustments to students whose Visa status might be affected by these special measures. It is suggested that international students consult with the ISSO office before proceeding with any registration or grading changes. Note that courses that have moved from an on-campus delivery mode to remote learning are not considered “online courses” for this semester.
These policy changes highlighted above have been designed to provide students with more individualized flexibility in their pursuit of academic progress. Again, each choice has implications that should be discussed with an advisor before undertaking.