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Colleges Plan to Reopen Campuses, but for Just Some Students at a Time

“This pandemic is among the worst crises ever to hit Princeton, or college education more broadly,” Christopher L. Eisgruber, president of Princeton, said in his reopening announcement. “Princeton’s preferred model of education emphasizes in-person engagement, but in-person engagement is what spreads this terrible virus.”

Princeton is one of the few universities that has said it would offer a tuition discount this fall because of the limitations. Students, whether on campus or learning remotely, will be charged 10 percent less — $48,501 for the coming year, instead of $53,890, according to a spokesman, Ben Chang. It was unclear how students receiving financial aid — who account for more than 60 percent of undergraduates — would be affected.

Princeton said it was instituting the policy because most undergraduates would be on campus only half the year — freshmen and juniors in the fall, sophomores and seniors in the spring.

Harvard University announced on Monday that no more than 40 percent of its undergraduates would be allowed on campus at a time during the next academic year, but that tuition would remain the same. All first-year students would be allowed in the fall semester, along with some students in other years whose home environments are not conducive to learning; the freshmen would leave in the spring to make space for seniors to finish and graduate on campus.

At Harvard, all classes will be held online, even for students living on campus. While it is not discounting its tuition and fees — about $54,000 for the year — the university said it would offer a summer term next year of two tuition-free courses for all students who had to study away from campus for the full academic year.

Cutting down the number of students on campus will allow many colleges to offer everyone a single or double dormitory bedroom. Students are being told they will have to eat takeout meals from dining halls in their rooms, or perhaps make a reservation to eat.

Many universities are requiring behavioral contracts in which students agree to wear face masks in public, to be tested regularly for the coronavirus, and to limit travel and socializing. If they break the rules, they can be disciplined.

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