Prefreshman Summer Program (PSP) – Frequently Asked Questions – 2021 Summer

General Program Questions

Is there a cost for the program?The cost of tuition and fees, lodging, meals, textbooks, and transportation to and from Cornell are covered by the university.

Are there any significant costs to students for PSP?
Students may be subject to covering the cost of Cornell health insurance. The University requires that all students carry adequate health insurance during the summer program. As a new academic-year student participating in an early start program, you will be automatically enrolled in the Student Health Plan (SHP) for the duration of your summer program. Students who have alternate insurance that meets Cornell’s requirements may apply to waive their SHP enrollment. Please note that health insurance changes may not accurately be reflected on your bursar bill until August.

What courses do students who participate in PSP take?
College advisors determine course schedules in advance, based on student needs and interests.

How do students get to and from Cornell for the summer?
The Prefreshman Summer Program (PSP) makes travel arrangements for students living within the NYC metropolitan area. Students who live more than 300 miles from Ithaca will receive information about making flight arrangements. Students who live within 300 miles of Ithaca may choose to take the bus to Ithaca and get reimbursed for their round-trip bus fare. Students will be provided information with details about making travel arrangements.

COVID-19 Related Questions

Will students be able to leave the program to attend high school graduation?
The safety of the PSP and Cornell community is paramount, and we will need to make the best choice for us as a collective community. Given that graduations are large gatherings that typically involve celebrations (both large and small), the risk of contracting COVID-19 and bringing it back to the Cornell community is high. Though we will continually evaluate the situation, it is very unlikely that any student would be able to return home for graduation. Graduations may be offered virtually, too.

What will move-in look like? When can students arrive, and will they need to quarantine?
As we have in the previous two semesters, Cornell will align move-in quarantine protocol with NYS Travel Guidelines. It is not possible to know exactly what this will look like in terms of timing of travel and quarantining since the guidelines are evolving for travel to NY for both vaccinated and non-vaccinated individuals. The CDC is currently working on new travel guidelines and recommendations for vaccinated people. What we can say is that move-in will be more tightly scheduled than in past years and will likely differ depending on whether the student is coming from a contiguous or non-contiguous state. For the safety of our community, Cornell’s quarantine requirements at move-in may differ from NYS travel guidelines.

What public health guidelines will be in place to keep students safe? What happens to students if they violate behavioral expectations?
Cornell expects all students, faculty and staff to adopt habits that prevent and slow the spread of COVID-19. Students are expected to comply with surveillance testing, mask wearing, hand washing, and maintaining physical distance. Cornell requires all students to adhere to a Behavioral Compact and addresses violations of the compact through the Cornell Compact Compliance Team. We will communicate with students as updates to compact are made for the summer.

What will happen if a student gets sick with COVID-19 or needs to quarantine? Where will they be placed, what will happen, and how long will they need to be there? Is there an option of completing quarantine or isolation at home?
If a student is isolated due to a positive COVID-19 test or if they are quarantined due to contact tracing, they will be notified by the Tompkins County Health Department (TCHD). The student will have time to collect personal belongings and supplies before being taken to a quarantine/isolation location, which we anticipate will be on-campus. All meals will be provided. Though the student will need to stay in their own room, if they are well enough, they will still be expected to participate in classes and virtual activities. A representative from TCHD will check in with daily about any COVID-19 related symptoms. In order to contain the spread as much as possible, and to not expose others outside of Cornell to COVID-19, all quarantine and isolation will take place on-campus and the student will not be able to travel home. PSP staff and faculty will work to develop a plan to stay in close contact with students while they’re isolated or quarantined so they do not feel alone.

If things get worse with COVID-19, will the program shut down?
Since August 2020, Cornell has had a “Covid-19 Tracking and Alert Level” system in place. We use data about community prevalence and transmission levels, available quarantine and isolation space, and local hospital capacity to adjust our alert levels as necessary. As of mid-March, the university has temporarily moved out of Covid-19 alert level green a handful of times. A move to yellow is a cautionary signal that although prevalence levels remain extremely low, there has been a spike in positive cases. If circumstances necessitate that the university move to alert level orange, some or all instruction could temporarily move online. Our faculty have experience teaching in multiple instruction modes and we have the campus resources necessary to support such a shift.

For updates on Covid-19 planning and reactivation at Cornell, please visit