Support for Graduate & Professional Students During the COVID-19 Pandemic

April 17, 2020

To Graduate and Professional students,

Our community of students, faculty and staff continues to be faced with challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are so proud of and grateful for your ability to shift our courses to remote instruction, ramp down in-person scholarly research, empty our campus, and find new ways to pursue your scholarly and social connections under substantial constraints.

We know that graduate and professional students are experiencing unique needs during this period of disruption. In early April, we instituted Technology Grants (requires PennKey) to meet some of your immediate needs and ensure that you can continue making academic progress. We write today because we know that this crisis has also impacted graduate and professional students in other ways, and we want to share several new initiatives to address these broader issues and provide you with support both immediately and in the longer term.

COVID-19 Emergency Funding: Through a generous partnership with GAPSA, we have established the GAPSA-Provost COVID-19 Emergency Fund to support full- and part-time graduate and professional students who have incurred unexpected expenses directly related to the COVID-19 disruptions of this semester, including moving expenses, travel, insurance, covering multiple rents, and other urgent needs as appropriate. The application for these funds will be open April 24-May 15; more information will be available on the Graduate Student Center website.

Enhanced Summer Funding and Professionalization Opportunities: The University is developing teaching, professional development, and other competitive opportunities to enable graduate and professional students not only to continue to advance your skills and build your resumes but also to earn additional summer funding. We have robust summer programs for incoming first-year undergraduates and Philadelphia high school students that will be delivered online this summer and will have roles for graduate student mentors, TAs and/or instructors. If you are interested in being considered for these programs, please fill out the form provided by the Vice Provost for Education.

Special Health Insurance Enrollment Period for Uninsured Graduate and Professional Students: The Penn Student Insurance Plan is offering a special enrollment period for uninsured Penn students and their dependents. This special enrollment period opened on April 13 and will remain open until April 30, with coverage provided for 4/1/2020 – 7/31/2020 at a reduced rate of $1,195 for a student, spouse or child (and $2,390 for two or more children). To enroll or ask any additional questions, please contact Deborah Olson at

Extended Health Insurance Coverage for Recent Graduates: All graduate and professional students who are graduating in May or August of this year will be eligible to remain on the Penn Student Insurance Plan through December 2020. We are currently working with Aetna (our health insurance provider) and state regulators to finalize the details, which we will share as soon as they are available in an email, on the Graduate Student Center website, and via the Vice Provost for Education’s newsletter.

We will communicate further details about these initiatives in the coming days. In the meantime, please review the Graduate Student Center’s list of resources available to graduate and professional students during these challenging times. We are strongly committed to your health and well-being, and we know that many of you may have additional concerns related to health and wellness, visa compliance, travel restrictions, and career opportunities, among others. Please make use of the many units at Penn – including Penn Wellness, Penn Global, and Career Services – that are here to help you. We look forward to continuing to work collaboratively to support you in all of your endeavors.


With support and best wishes,

Amy Gutmann, President
Wendell E. Pritchett, Provost
Beth A. Winkelstein, Vice Provost for Education

Last Updated 04/01/2020 - 10:00