COVID 19 Mitigation for Graduate Students

All graduate students have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic or related measures. Based on reports from students, the impact has been uneven. Many students have experienced disruptions to their programs, their research, their families and to their physical and mental health. These disruptions range from the easily mitigated to those requiring additional time, resources and support. In some cases, the support required may be significant.

Given limited resources, and especially that the Faculty of Arts & Science must be prepared for the possibility that it will need to respond to the ongoing and unforeseen consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic in the months, and perhaps years, to come, the Faculty will be targeting assistance to those most in need. This allows us to tailor assistance to the unique circumstances that have arisen based on the nature of students’ programs, research and personal circumstances.

In conjunction with the School of Graduate Studies, the Faculty of Arts & Science is providing a suite of programs to respond to student needs now and in the future. These programs, which will be administered at the graduate unit level, may evolve or expand as the situation resulting from COVID-19 requires. The programs range from the simple, such as bursaries to respond to urgent need, to more complex mechanisms to help students who are experiencing delays, have lost research or need to make dramatic changes to their research plans.

Tuition Fee Exemption
Program Completion Award
Research Pivot Award
Emergency Bursary
Questions

Tuition Fee Exemption

Overview

Students outside the funded cohort whose research has been disrupted due to COVID-19 may request an exemption from tuition for one session (i.e., one term, not a full year). The Tuition Fee Exemption may be requested during the coming academic year (Fall 2020 or Winter 2021) or, for students who are currently funded, upon exiting the funded cohort in a future year.

Value

The Tuition Fee Exemption will exempt a student from tuition fees for one session. It will not cover mandatory non-tuition fees, such as incidental, ancillary, and system access fees.

Eligibility Requirements

The following SGS criteria must be met:

  1. The student was making good progress with the MRP/thesis/dissertation prior to COVID-19 and data collection or access to necessary sources has been significantly impeded due to pandemic-related impacts. For students in coursework programs (e.g. MSc Pl), academic activities or access to necessary resources has been significantly impeded due to COVID-19. This details of the disruption to the student’s work will have been documented.
  2. Additional work is needed before the MRP/thesis/dissertation can be defended or the major research paper is completed and the revised research plan requires an additional session of registration. For MSc Pl, completion of coursework will require additional time beyond the normal length of the degree (2 years).
  3. The student will be outside the funded cohort (MA/MSc year 2+, PhD year 5+, MSc Pl) and will receive little or no other funding towards tuition fees for the session for which they are applying for an exemption (i.e., receiving less than $10,000 in awards).
  4. The supervisory committee and/or Program Director agrees that conditions (1) through (4) have been met.

Application Process

  1. Student will complete the Register with Tuition Exemption on the Basis of Delays due to COVID-19 form, which must be signed by both the student and supervisor.
  2. Email the form, with a brief description of the nature of the disruption to the student’s work, to finlayson@geog.utoronto.ca (MSc Pl students may email the form to wright@geog.utoronto.ca). The student’s supervisor (or Planning Director for MSc Pl) should be cc’d on this email.
  3. Once the form is reviewed, the department will notify students of the outcome. If the application is approved, the department will send the form to SGS for processing. If the application is not approved, students may submit an appeal to the department’s Graduate Academic Appeals Committee.
  4. Forms should be submitted in advance of the relevant registration deadline.

Program Completion Award

Overview

The A&S Program Completion Award (PCA) is intended to provide direct income support to students who need extra time to complete their degree as a result of COVID-19 related delays to academic progress. The Program Completion Award will complement the tuition fee exemption provided through SGS, as well as other traditional forms of graduate support such as TA and RA income and direct support from graduate units and supervisors.

Value

The value of the award is variable depending on the student’s access to other funding support, such as TA, RA and other awards. The maximum value of the award is expected to be approximately $3,500.

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for the A&S Program Completion Award, students must:

  1. The student was making good progress with their MRP/thesis/dissertation prior to COVID-19 and data collection or access to necessary resources has been significantly impeded due to pandemic-related impacts. For MSc Pl, student was making good progress with coursework prior to COVID-19, however ability to complete work was disrupted due to pandemic-related impacts. Brief details to document the nature of the disruption will be documented.
  2. Additional work is needed before the MRP/thesis/dissertation can be defended or the major research paper is completed and the revised research plan will require an additional session of registration. For MSc Pl, completion of coursework will require additional time beyond the normal length of the degree (2 years).
  3. Student is outside the funded cohort with limited or no alternative funding (student holds less than $10,000 in funding from awards, TA and RA for the session for which the Program Completion Award is being requested).
  4. Student is approved to receive the Tuition Fee Exemption during the session for which Program Completion Award is being requested.

Application Process

  1. Student will complete the Program Completion Award Application, which must be signed by both the student and supervisor.
  2. Email the form to finlayson@geog.utoronto.ca, MSc Pl students may email the form to wright@geog.utoronto.ca. The student’s supervisor (or Planning Director for MSc Pl) should be cc’d on this email.
  3. Once the application is reviewed, the department will notify students of the outcome.

Research Pivot Award

Overview

The A&S COVID-19 Research Pivot Award is intended to assist students whose research has been derailed by COVID-19 to the point that they require financial assistance with the research expenses needed to redevelop the research that they had originally planned.

Value

The value of the award is variable depending on the research budget and student’s access to other funding support.

Eligibility

To be eligible for the A&S Research Pivot Award, students must:

  1. Be full-time research stream graduate students (MA, MSc or PhD – MSc Pl students are not eligible);
  2. Student must significantly pivot their research plans due to a COVID-19 related disruption. Previously planned research or other learning activities are no longer available to the student (e.g., data collection or access to other necessary information has been significantly impeded due to COVID-19 and/or data have been lost);
  3. There are insufficient data to defend an MRP/thesis/dissertation;
  4. All feasible alternative academic activities have been completed; and,
  5. Funds are required for research related expenses and costs.

Application Process

  1. Student will complete the Research Pivot Award Application, which must be signed by both the student and supervisor.
  2. Email the form to finlayson@geog.utoronto.ca. The student’s supervisor should be cc’d on this email.
  3. Once the application is reviewed, the department will notify students of the outcome.

Emergency Bursary

Overview

The A&S Graduate Student Emergency Bursary is available to provide short-term/immediate financial relief in connection to unexpected expenses incurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Eligibility

All graduate students in a Master’s (professional or research-stream) or PhD program, enrolled in an Arts & Science administered (Tri-campus) program in the winter 2020 or summer 2020 session are eligible. This includes graduate students affiliated with any of the UTM, UTSC, and St. George campuses in an A&S administered program. Students are eligible, whether they are domestic or international, and whether they are in a funded cohort or not.

Value

Lower value requests for say, $200, can be approved quickly. Higher value requests, say of $500 or more, may take longer. Given the available funds and potential student need, bursaries more than $1,000 will be limited.

Once approved by your graduate unit, the Graduate Student Emergency Bursary will be paid via ACORN and will be direct deposited to your bank account. After processing, it may take up to 5 business days for the funds to appear in your bank account, depending up your bank’s own procedures. If you apply for a bursary, please ensure that your direct deposit information on ACORN is current.

As a final note, please understand that funds are limited. While we encourage all graduate students with short term financial need to apply for the bursary, we request that students who are able to manage without a bursary at this time refrain from submitting a request, so that we can accommodate those with greater need.

Application Process

Complete the Online Application. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis, students will be notified by the department of the outcome of their request.

Questions

Contact Jessica Finlayson at finlayson@geog.utoronto.ca (MA, MSc and PhD) or Marija Wright at wright@geog.utoronto.ca (MSc Pl).