3/23 – An Important Update from Provost Zukoski

March 23, 2021

Dear Trojan Community, 

With the recent decline in COVID-19 cases in the Los Angeles area, the county has officially entered the red tier of California’s reopening framework. This change enables us to accelerate our efforts to return to in-person activities. 

Remainder of Spring 

Under the red tier status, we are now able to take a number of new steps: 

• Research activity will be ramped up from 50 percent of normal capacity to full capacity, while continuing to adhere to physical distancing, PPE, and testing guidelines. 

• USC libraries will allow for higher density, though at reduced capacity compared to pre-pandemic levels. 

• Our museums will begin to reopen, also at reduced capacity. More information will be distributed soon. 

• Outdoor intramural and club sports will resume for students living on or near campus. Sign up for an Intramural Sports league or contact the Recreational Club Council if you are interested. 

• Study canopies are now available for individual students to reserve. Guidelines and information on how to make reservations are available on the USC Student Affairs website

• Class instruction will remain online for the spring and we will not be permitted to add additional students to residence halls this semester. 

 If conditions continue to improve, we expect to take additional steps towards reopening: 

• Resuming some in-person courses in the Summer II session (June 30 – August 10) following a mostly remote Summer I session (May 19 – June 29). 

• Reopening residence halls at reduced occupancy. 

• Reopening fitness centers at reduced capacity. 

• Resuming work in laboratories for undergraduates, taking into account all appropriate physical distancing and safety protocols. This includes summer programs for non-USC undergraduates. 

Academic Progress Scholarships 

Undergraduate students who enrolled full-time in Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 and earned fewer than 30 graded units over the course of the academic year may apply for a summer Academic Progress Scholarship. Students who meet the eligibility criteria will be approved for either one or two degree-applicable online courses. The application period opens on April 1. More information is available here

Pass/No Pass Update 

Due to the extended impact of COVID-19 on academic semesters through Summer 2021, the Pass/No Pass grading option will extend through Summer 2021 and the degree unit limit will be increased from 24 to 32 units for current undergraduates for the duration of their USC undergraduate degree. 

Fall 2021 

We plan to resume a normal range of campus activities in the Fall, though with some measures to reduce density where needed. Overall, we expect: 

• Primarily in-person classes. 

• Typical occupancy for USC Housing. 

• Indoor and outdoor dining options for students. 

• Resumption of most student life activities. 

Working at Home or in Person 

While Los Angeles County is likely to lift the work-from-home health recommendations by the Fall, we have learned a great deal about our ability to work remotely over the past year. We will review what balance can be drawn between on-site and remote work in the Fall and will share more about the university’s plans in the coming months. 

International Students 

The immediate outlook for international travel both to and from the United States remains uncertain, so it is possible that international students may continue to face visa challenges. We are monitoring this situation as it relates to international students’ ability to enter the country and will issue further guidance and options for remote learning as soon as possible. 

Safety Protocols 

To ensure the university is fully prepared for the resumption of in-person instruction and student life, considerable effort has been put towards retrofitting campus and reconfiguring facilities and spaces. Physical distancing, face coverings, and health and safety protocols (e.g., Trojan Check, participating in COVID-19 testing) will continue to be required campus-wide. As stipulated in the university’s COVID-19 vaccine policy, students, faculty, and staff returning to campus this summer, and beyond, are required to submit their COVID-19 vaccine record (after any dose) in MySHR, or the declination form if they choose not to be vaccinated. All students are expected to follow the Standards for COVID-19 Student Health and Safety. This includes the requirement to self-quarantine for 10 days after travel outside of California. 


After careful consideration, the USC Board of Trustees has approved a 2 percent tuition increase for the 2021-2022 academic year, the lowest year-over-year increment since 1967 and keeping in line with inflation. Our teams have worked tirelessly to chart a path that keeps tuition as stable as possible, while allowing the university to operate safely in the midst of a pandemic and ensure its financial aid pool continues to be robust. 

Financial Aid 

USC will continue to commit more than $400 million of its own funding for student financial aid each year, and all sources of aid exceed $650 million annually. About two-thirds of USC undergraduates receive some form of financial aid, including need-based grants, merit scholarships, Federal Work-Study, and loans. 


Now that we are returning to campus, student fees will return to pre-COVID levels with an increase in the student fee to support new campus health programs. You may recall that all student fees had been consolidated and reduced to $100 during each of the past two semesters. 

For the 2021-2022 academic year, mandatory fees for undergraduates will be $499 per semester and $475 per semester for graduate students. This represents a $60 increase in our student health fee over Spring 2020 with other fees remaining at the same level. The increase supports expanded comprehensive health programs, including improving quality of care and patient access in clinical operations; more than doubling the number of mental health providers; and increasing programs in sexual assault prevention and survivor care, substance abuse education, and other specialized programs. 


The university has launched a new SPREAD CARE NOT COVID campaign with signage adorning buildings and public spaces. It’s a result of some incredible work by a group of Iovine and Young Academy students. SPREAD CARE NOT COVID will be central to our efforts in encouraging everyone in our campus community to take the necessary precautions to protect each other as we return to campus. I encourage you all to download these newly posted SPREAD CARE NOT COVID Zoom backgrounds to help spread this important message. 

Be safe, stay healthy, and Fight On! 

Charles F. Zukoski
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs