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COVID-19 Residential Life FAQ’s

We’ve received many questions about how Residential Life is handling various aspects of our response to COVID-19.  Some of the most common questions are listed below.  We will continue to update these entries as we receive more information, so keep checking back!  To view our FAQ’s for the Spring 2020 semester please visit our archived FAQ page.

COVID-19 Residential Life FAQs
Residential Life’s Response to COVID-19

What steps are UMBC Residential Life and Facilities staff taking to support the community’s safety, health, and well-being this fall?

Safety, health, and well-being are top priorities in our on-campus residence communities and these priorities guide our decision making for fall semester. This includes educating students regarding campus expectations for social distancing, personal protective equipment (face coverings, sanitizer, etc.), and practices to support student health. Disinfectant as well as additional hand sanitizing stations will be readily available throughout the residential communities. Additionally, quarantine and isolation protocols are being developed to keep students and communities safe, in line with CDC and health professional guidelines.

Are there plans to increase cleaning in public areas within the residence halls?

Yes, staff will increase the cleaning frequency of community restrooms, laundry rooms and high touch point areas such as elevator buttons, water fountains, and door handles. Additionally, spray bottles with disinfectant and paper towels will be available for student use in common areas to assist with overall sanitation.

What actions can students take to help keep themselves and their fellow community members safe and healthy this fall?

  • If you are sick, stay home and do not go to class or work.
  • Wear a face covering at all times indoors and outdoors when other people are nearby.
  • Keep appropriate distance between you and others.
  • Wash your hands frequently or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Wipe down shared surfaces in your bathroom and shared living spaces.

How many students live in the residence halls?

Traditionally 4,000 students live on campus in a combination of triple, double, and single suites and apartments in Residential Life and Walker Avenue Apartments. We will be limiting on-campus housing to one student per bedroom, reducing to roughly 2,200 beds.

What is the University doing to prepare in the event someone tests positive for COVID-19?

Our goal is for all students, faculty, and staff to stay safe and well on campus this fall. For their part, students should follow good personal hygiene practices, make healthy choices, and follow the campus’s guidelines regarding hand washing, physical distancing, limiting large group gatherings, etc. Public health experts tell us that it is likely that we will have cases of COVID-19 on campus this fall. University experts, health professionals, faculty, and staff are working through extensive plans. The University will maintain a number of quarantine and isolation residential spaces available should an on-campus resident need to temporarily relocate during a quarantine or isolation period. Food delivery and academic accommodations are also being planned. We urge every student to have a plan for what they will do if they are exposed or become ill with COVID-19.

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Housing Assignments, Applications, and Deposits

Why were 2020-2021 academic housing licenses canceled for students who met the original deadline?

As a result of the COVID-19 health restrictions beyond the University’s control, we canceled all of the 2020-2021 housing licenses and intend to offer a limited housing license for an abbreviated term during the fall semester only (August 2020 – November 25, 2020) to a more limited number of students due to health advice recommending single bedroom settings. Additionally, in response to the health and safety challenges, the on-campus housing experience will be significantly different from what was offered in the original full academic year housing license. These changes, under CDC and health officials’ guidance, in the abbreviated duration of the license, the single bedroom occupancy resulting in different charges, and the new rules and expectations around maintaining a healthy environment, revealed that the performance of the original housing license became an impossibility.

What is the new criteria for being considered for on-campus housing?

  • In the event that demand of housing is great that capacity, we have identified factor that prioritize student academic success. Residential Life, in collaboration with Academic Affairs, has established new criteria for prioritizing on-campus housing offers for the fall semester:
    • Students registered in at least one (1) in-person or hybrid class or a predetermined University affiliation or sponsorship by a university department that requires access to University facilities in order to fulfill academic commitments.
      • This includes but is not limited to research facilities, labs, and athletic training facilities.
    • Participation in first-year academic cohort programs, including but not limited to scholars programs and Living Learning Communities (LLCs).
    • Students’ distance from campus based on permanent address (students with addresses greater than 30 miles from campus will be given stronger consideration) and international students.
    • Students with an approved medical housing accommodation through Student Disability Services ( that requires them to live on campus.
    • Students identified as having exceptional need for housing.
    • Please note that on-campus employment and student club and organization affiliation are not priority factors at this time.
  • All student housing needs are not identified by these categories; therefore, UMBC staff will work to review individual requests for on-campus housing through the Fall Housing Wait List Application. Our priority in these decisions will be based on student need for safe and secure housing or for whom on- campus housing is necessary to fulfill their academic requirements.

Why was my housing license cancelled and what are my options?

  • All original 2020-2021 housing licenses were terminated, in order to make accommodations for the new abbreviated fall-only housing arrangement. Students who meet some or all of the priority criteria were invited to either complete a Housing License for the Abbreviated Term during the Fall 2020 Academic Semester or a Fall Housing Wait List Application.
  • Students who complete the new housing license by their offer deadline are guaranteed housing for the abbreviated term during the fall 2020 semester.
  • Students who complete the Fall Housing Wait List Application will be considered for on-campus housing based on the priority criteria and the availability of space, and may receive a housing license offer to complete.
  • Student who complete the Fall Housing Wait List Application and those who do not meet the priority criteria are encouraged to consider alternative housing and enrollment options for the fall 2020 semester:
    • Remain at home for the fall semester and enroll in all online courses.
    • If your house is within commutable distance, consider taking a combination of online and in-person/hybrid campus classes.
    • Explore Off-Campus Student Services, which supports students with resources for engaging in campus life, carpooling programs, and commuter services.
    • Review UMBC Transit options for commuting to campus from your home or off-campus space.

I paid a $200 housing deposit earlier, will it be refunded or held?

Students who paid a $200 housing deposit and license for the the fall semester will have their deposit held on file. Students who paid a $200 housing deposit and are not licensed for the fall should have been issued a refund on or around August 6, 2020.

If I do not live on campus in the fall, can I apply for spring (and visa versa)?

Yes, since students are only licensed for a semester at a time this year, they can elect not to live on campus for fall and apply for Spring housing. More information about the Spring application process will be available in October.

How can Off-Campus Student Services (OCSS) assist students who are planning to live off campus?

OCSS offers one-on-one appointments with readily available staff to provide support to any UMBC student (graduate, undergraduate) living off-campus. In order to schedule this meeting, please contact and staff will reach out to you directly.

Will I have a roommate this fall?

Students will not share bedrooms as is usually the case in our traditional residence halls. However, you may share a bathroom, common area, and/or kitchen with at least one other person, depending upon the building you’re in.

When and how will assignments be made?

We anticipate that most students will receive their housing assignment no later than July 24, 2020. Housing assignments will be determined based on students’ original housing application preferences. We will do our best to honor original roommate requests; however, if not all roommates were offered a housing license by the time of assignment, we cannot guarantee placement together.

How do I submit a housing request for a medical/personal issue?

Students seeking an accommodation due to medical need should (1) indicate potential needs on the housing application and (2) work with Student Disability Services. While it’s helpful for our staff to know that you might have a need on your housing application, housing placement decisions are made based on the recommendations from Student Disability Services.

How will residence hall rooms be set up?

All rooms will remain set up as normal. For instance, a traditional shared bedroom will still have multiple sets of furniture even though only one resident will be assigned to the space. For images of room layouts, please visit

Are the apartments reduced as well?

Yes, similar to the residential halls and suites the apartments will only house a maximum of 2 residents.

What are the fall housing rates?

We are consolidating the room rates to reflect the single room experience. The fall semester room rate is $3,925, which includes the $175 communication and technology fee.

If I complete the Fall Housing License, and decide to cancel can I get my deposit back?

Once a student completes the new fall license, they are committing to the new terms and agreements, including the cancellation terms, conditions, and fees. Students who cancel after they complete the new fall license forfeit their $200 housing deposit and may be assessed a termination fee based on timing of request.

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Hall Opening and Closing

Is UMBC considering beginning the fall 2020 semester early?

UMBC plans to begin classes as scheduled on August 27.

When will the residence halls open for fall 2020?

In order to maintain social distancing, move-in will take place between August 21, 2020 and August 26, 2020. Students will be assigned a specific move-in date and time. For more information about move-in please visit our Move-In Information page.

When do students have to move out?

UMBC will end all in-person classes sessions prior to Thanksgiving Break. All residents are expected to completely vacate and remove their personal items by the end of the abbreviated fall housing term (November 25, 2020 at 8 p.m.). In the event that a staggered move-out is required, Residential Life will provide students with additional information.

Will I be able to live on campus after Thanksgiving Break?

Residential Life will work with students requiring a move-out exemption due to hardship. Information about requests will be sent to students at the beginning of November.

Will I be able to live in the residence halls for the winter and spring semester?

At this time, we do not know if we will be able to revert to our full occupancy for spring 2021. We will announce plans for the spring semester in mid-October.

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Student Expectations

What are the new resident expectations?

  • Students will be responsible for abiding by the policies and expectations outlined in the UMBC Retriever Community Agreement, 2020-2021 Student Code of Conduct and Addendum and the UMBC Residential Rights and Responsibilities Guide.
  • Students who meet the priority criteria will be required to complete a new housing license.
  • In order to maintain social distancing, move-in will take place over a series of several days. More information will be shared with students in mid-July when assignment information is communicated.
  • The term of the license will be for part of the fall semester only (through November 25, 2020).
  • All students are expected to completely vacate and remove their personal items by the end of the abbreviated fall housing term. Residential Life will work with students requiring a move-out exemption due to hardship. In the event that a staggered move-out is required, Residential Life will provide students with additional information.
  • Residents will be expected to abide by University expectations for social distancing, face covering, etc. Violations of the Retriever Community Agreement or the University’s COVID-19 emergency health and safety rules, policies, and expectations will be taken seriously and may result in removal of the student from on-campus housing.
  • Some common spaces in residence halls will be closed or adapted to maintain student safety.
  • Residents will not be permitted to have guests from outside their building/community.
  • Residents will share a bathroom with at least one other student.
  • Residential Life and UMBC staff will clean and sanitize common areas (laundry rooms, lounges, front desks, etc.).
  • Residents are responsible for cleaning and disinfecting their bedroom, bathroom, living room/kitchen (if applicable).
  • Residents who test positive for COVID-19 will be required to relocate and self-isolate; further expectations and protocol information will be shared with the campus community soon. Residents who require quarantine will be provided appropriate housing with additional expectations and protocols.
  • Residents are highly encouraged to limit travel, and should quarantine in their room if they do.
  • Residents assigned to halls and suites will be required to choose from the following meal plan options: The Ultimate, The Flexible 14, The Terrific 12, the Block 225. More detailed information on meal plans is coming soon.
  • Due to limited housing, returning residents who pre-selected a room may be reassigned.

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Residential Experience

Will lounges and common areas be available for students to use?

Some common spaces will be closed or adapted to maintain student safety. Signage and instructions about use will be placed in each area to denote maximum capacity.

Will I be expected to complete educational training related to COVID-19?

Yes. The University will provide online training for all students, faculty, and staff.

Will I be expected to wear a face covering on campus?

Yes, students are expected to wear a face covering when social distancing cannot be achieved. Students are welcome to remove their face covering in their private residence only when they are alone.

Will there be opportunities for students to get to know others in their residence hall and community?

Of course! While the ways that we engage may look different, there will still be plenty of opportunities to meet others that live next door, down the hall, or elsewhere on campus.

How will students meet new people, learn, and engage with each other?

Residential Life and Campus Life staff are busy planning for the return of students to campus. While most events will occur online, there will be some events that occur
in person that meet health and safety guidelines.

Will staff be available on campus to assist in the fall?

Each resident will have a Resident Assistant (RA) to assist with any questions or concerns that may arise. In addition, Community Directors, who are full-time professional staff who live in our communities, are able to assist residents. Contact information for each Community Director can be found on each community webpage.

Will services and operations in the residence halls be different this fall?

Our goal is to ensure that residents have access to the same level of service that they would typically; however, COVID-19 guidance will change some of the ways that we provide that same service. We are working closely with campus partners to determine new practices and procedures that ensure the health of students and staff.

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