Donor FAQs

We’ve set up a form to submit your frequently asked questions in an effort to provide clarity to our generous donors who are seeking answers about the University’s response to COVID-19 and other happenings on campus. Stu and the UR Leadership team will investigate your question and provide a University-approved response here on the University Relations blog.

Please use this link to submit your question. We will post questions and answers below as they become available.

I am receiving several donor inquiries about the University accepting Federal funding.  Please provide information on the University’s decision process.

University Talking Points (April 26, 2020)
  • We agree that the funds Congress allocated for small businesses should be used exclusively by them.
  • While Notre Dame has yet to apply for any funds allocated separately for universities,we are open to doing so if the funds can be used to support needy families who want college educations for their children. They are among the hardest hit by the pandemic’s economic fallout. We will of course support them with the University’s own funds, as we always do. They are also in our prayers in these perilous times.
  • Almost one-half (48 percent) of Notre Dame students receive financial assistance in the form of need-based scholarships that do not require repayment. The median amount per student is $38,000, about three-quarters the cost of tuition to Notre Dame.
  • Student financial aid has been Notre Dame’s top funding priority for more than 30 years. Beyond fund-raising, one recent example of the efforts in this regard was putting savings generated by the University’s early retirement program last year toward student financial aid.
  • While endowment spending is constrained legally by thousands of donor agreements, one-third of Notre Dame’s endowment earnings is expended on student financial aid.
  • Congress has allocated $746 billion to small businesses to date, and $14 billion to all sectors of higher education, with guidance from the Department of Education to use the funds to respond to student and campus needs related to the crisis.
  • While there has been some confusion on this point, the funds Congress allocated to higher education are completely separate from those allocated to small businesses, and any funds not used by higher education would not transfer to small businesses.

How does this year’s Admitted Class profile compare to previous years?

The following is a link to Don Bishop’s annual interview with The Observer in which he gives an overview and profile of the admitted class of 2024.

Are any faculty members doing research on COVID-19 that we could share?

University of Notre Dame faculty members in both the College of Science and College of Engineering are working on all aspects of COVID-19 research, from diagnostic testing for infection, to vaccine identification and development, therapeutic drug development, community-wide measurements of infection, transmission modeling and mapping, and the social media and societal response to this pandemic. Each of the scholars listed below are among the top faculty researchers at the University; put another way, our best and brightest faculty have stepped up and are doing all they can to help in this time of need. Please see below for more details:

Community-Wide Measurement
Norm Dovichi (Chemistry and Biochemistry), Matt Champion (Chemistry and Biochemistry), and Kyle Bibby (Civil Engineering) are all monitoring COVID-19 in the Mishawaka regional sewage system as a community-wide measure of infection. Measuring the amounts of COVID-19 in sewage systems allows for a better understanding of disease spread within a community and also could be a predictor of outbreaks to come. The easy way to look at their work is that one test of sewage potentially shows the amount of COVID among thousands of people, versus the 1:1 testing of individuals. It could also alert a community to a possible outbreak as the COVID starts to show up in feces prior to symptom onset and subsequent hospitalization and testing.

Diagnostic Testing
Chia Chang (Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering) and his team are working on a rapid pretreatment technology that can reduce the false negative rates of COVID diagnostics, which is estimated to be as high as 30% with the current tests. Their technology isolates the viruses from the other debris in the sample that reduces the sensitivity of the detection. Their technology works fast, about 15 minutes, and it works well with any downstream diagnostic platform. The usual time for the diagnostic part is 1 hour. While the most mature technology is for sample preparation, they are also working on direct testing technology.

Drug Discovery
Shariar Mobashary (Chemistry and Biochemistry) and his team are going after everything that this virus has. The 29 genes produce both enzymes critical for the viral lifestyle as well as proteins that serve the structural functions (how the virus is assembled). The structural genes will be useful for vaccine development. Brian Baker is interested in that aspect, see below. For them, the enzymes will be targets of drug discovery.

Brian Baker (Chemistry and Biochemistry) is working on viral immunology and potential therapeutic SARS-CoV2 therapeutic vaccines. Right now he and his team are identifying potential sites in the various SARS-Cov2 structural proteins that are likely to elicit strong antiviral immune responses, with an emphasis on identifying those that are resistant to viral “escape” as it mutates (which it is, albeit slowly). This is currently being done computationally, and we are using our network of various collaborators to find mouse and then other non-human models to test immunogenicity.

Transmission Mapping
Alex Perkins (Biological Sciences) works on predictive modeling of disease transmission and spread, transmission dynamics and mapping. The goal of his research is to attain a predictive understanding of where and when this disease occurs, what the impact of interventions will be in curtailing its burden, and how the distribution of the disease and the response to interventions will change over time as a result of changes in its underlying drivers

Society’s Reaction to the Pandemic
Nitesh Chawla (Computer Science and Engineering) is collecting social and digital media data as it relates to society’s reaction to news and data on progression of the pandemic. Not sure where the data will take him, but he is excited to find out.

How will students retrieve their belongings?

The following is a link to the letter that Erin Hoffman Harding sent on 3/31, plus below is an excerpt from that letter.

With the State of Indiana under a stay-at-home order until at least April 7, many states under similar or more stringent regulations, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommending against any large gatherings well into May, we realize and truly regret that move-out options will be less than ideal for students and families.

Within these constraints, we have worked hard to prepare options that will provide opportunity for travel planning and consideration for unique circumstances. Thank you for your patience.

  • As you know, the residence halls are currently closed. To honor public health guidelines, please do not return until instructed.
  • We will offer students the opportunity to sign up in advance for a move-out appointment in the Home Under the Dome system.
  • The quantity of move-out appointments available each day will be based on public health guidelines and limited accordingly. We will offer as many appointments as we can as quickly as possible while honoring relevant recommendations about crowds.
  • Based on current information, we anticipate the earliest move-out appointments might take place in late May. May move-out appointments, if feasible, would limit the numbers of individuals returning to campus each day.
  • We anticipate some students, potentially international students, may be unable to return to campus to retrieve their things. In these limited situations, students or families could select an approved packing service.
  • Packing services would occur after the move-out appointments.
  • The Office of Student Enrichment is available to assist students for whom a return trip to campus might present a particular financial hardship.
  • The Office of Residential Life will be in touch with further details, and you can direct any questions to

Please note that teams from Student Affairs, Building Services, and Maintenance are in the process of emptying and unplugging refrigerators, securing windows, and attending to other maintenance matters to ensure student belongings remain safe until they can be retrieved.

How is Admissions handling the recruitment of admitted students given the fact that yield events on campus have been cancelled?

Admissions has been communicating more extensively with admitted students online. They are sending out a weekly newsletter and have organized three informational webcasts to date (4/2/20).

How is Gateway student recruitment being addressed given the cancellation of on campus Gateway visits?

Admissions will be hosting a couple of online panels and other points of contact for the gateway group.

The panel layout is to offer a Welcome from ND (Erin Camilleri. in our office) and Mike Griffin (EVP at HC) for the first ten minutes and then we’ll pivot to the students (current and previous Gateways) to share their experiences. We will then field questions for the next 30 minutes. We plan to cover :

  • Academics at ND versus HC
  • How to get involved on both campuses
  • How to understand why they were offered Gateway and what is the spirit of the Gateway Program
  • How was the transition to ND for the upperclassmen

The students were all sent invitations, so they should easily be able to register. Additionally, all of the students have already been connected with current Gateways and prospective parents have been connecting with other previous Gateway parents.

Would the University consider extending funds raised in the student relief fund to help the families of students in need whose parents have had a loss of employment and other financial difficulties due to Coronavirus (outside of financial aid for tuition and room and board)?

The purpose of the Student Emergency Relief Fund is to solely provide financial aid for students whose lives have been upended by this health and economic crisis.  The University does not want a single student to withdraw from Notre Dame because of financial duress or to put an undue burden on their families to ensure their child graduates.

What is the timing on the refund for prorated housing and meal plans?

The Office of Student Accounts will be communicating with students on the prorated refunds by the end of next week (w/o 4/6).  Scott Clyde shared that the refund process is not as straightforward as one would think. It is a very detailed process due to the numerous variables that need to be considered with how each student pays for these expenses — ranging from students/families paying the full bill to zero (which are easy) to everything in between (think almost but not quite full need students, study abroad unique amounts, merit awards that cover some of these costs, other outside funds that cover some, athletes, etc.).

The NCAA just passed a resolution today 3/30 that approved another year of eligibility for all spring sport athletes due to the cancellation of all spring sports. Will Jack Swarbrick be able to share an analysis of how this will impact the total cost of athletic grants-in-aid for the 2020-21 academic year for the students who choose to participate in their sport for another year?

While the NCAA passed this resolution to grant another year of eligibility for spring sport athletes, they also left the decision to pursue and implement this policy up to the individual universities/colleges. As such, Jack is using this week to work through his recommendation with Father John and will report out to our coaching staffs likely by week’s end or early next week. At that time, and based on that decision, the discussion around future costs and the impact to the scholarship bill can be analyzed.

Will the football season be affected?

There have been no decisions made yet as to the football season. We are proceeding as planned for now and will continue to monitor the national climate for making any changes.

I brought up the question in this morning’s Sport mtg regarding the potential for an abbreviated offering a Notre Dame Day-style celebration for our alumni, friends, and family. This could serve our constituents, in light of the postponed official ND Day events, to celebrate our ND family using some material from last year’s ND Day, messages from our leadership, visit the Grotto for a virtual group prayer. It could be a short program of 60-90 minutes of pre-recorded vignettes similar to the Elton John concert that took place last evening on tv. Just thinking of a way to bring “campus”‘ into homes through a YouTube livestream.

The Storytelling Team continues to explore ways to effectively connect donors to campus and has worked with University partners to reach out to the Notre Dame family through the use of technology. With the postponement of ND Day, we are aware that we lost a special day to communicate all that is unique and inspirational about the Notre Dame family. Jim and his team appreciate the recommendation and plan to review this and several other options after Easter. Once plans are confirmed, we will notify the team. In the meantime, please continue to use the stories and resources contained in the Alumni Association’s weekly email update.

Will students have the option to receive a Pass/Fail grade for spring semester courses? What if it is a course for their major?

The following is an excerpt from Provost Burish’s letter to students on COVID-19 issues sent on March 27.

Changes to Undergraduate Student Grading for the Spring 2020 Semester.  This semester undergraduate students will have the opportunity to view their final course grades at the end of the semester, and then choose whether to accept their letter grades or elect a pass/no credit option.  Those receiving a letter grade of A through D can choose to receive a pass (P); those receiving an F grade can choose to receive a no credit (NC).  Pass and no-credit grades will have no effect on a student’s grade point average.  Undergraduates may make this choice for any or all of their courses.  The Registrar will provide in the near future administrative instructions for choosing the pass/no credit option.  This grading option does not apply to courses completed prior to spring break.

What is the status of summer sessions?

The status of summer session has not been confirmed as of 3/30/20. You should expect an announcement sometime in the next few weeks.

If commencement is postponed, is there a chance a virtual commencement will take its place? Or would the primary option be to gather on campus for regular commencement activities at a later date?

In a letter today (3/30/20) to the Class of 2020, University of Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., announced that the University Commencement Ceremony on May 17 will be held online rather than in Notre Dame Stadium, and that an on-campus celebration has been scheduled for the spring of 2021.

In order to ensure that the graduates’ degrees are conferred and certified in May for the purposes of employment or further studies, Notre Dame will live-stream a ceremony May 17. The commencement speaker, His All-Holiness Bartholomew, Orthodox Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch, and others will be asked to record remarks for the graduates.

After speaking with Class of 2020 officers, Father Jenkins also announced that the University plans to bring this year’s graduates back to campus on Memorial Day weekend 2021 to, in his words, “spend time with your friends, classmates, faculty and others who have been part of your Notre Dame experience … and celebrate your accomplishments.” Details will be announced in coming months.

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