June 7, 2021

Dear Spelman students,

We have heard your concerns. The housing decision Spelman recently announced is causing stress and anxiety for you and your families. We are moving swiftly to find solutions that will increase the availability of on campus housing.

We intend to share those solutions by the end of the week.

Also, as we read your emails, receive your phone calls, and scan social media, we are aware of several pieces of misinformation that are creating additional anxiety and write now to correct misstatements of fact.

1) Why are there fewer residential rooms available for the 2021-2022 Academic Year?

The two primary reasons that the College has fewer residential rooms available for regular occupancy next year are 1) the anticipated first-year enrollment increase and 2) an anticipated need to leave a residence hall vacant for use as quarantine and isolation space in the event of positive COVID-19 cases amongst the residential population. On average, the College can house 1401 students during a normal academic year.

2) Why did Spelman admit such a large incoming class?

In fact, Spelman did not admit significantly more students this year. What did change is the fact that, to our surprise, a significantly higher percentage of applicants admitted this year have indicated their intent to enroll. While we know that for various reasons, not all deposited students will ultimately enroll, we must plan for their arrival based on the information currently available to us.

3) Are other institutions also managing higher yield rates?

As we confer with our peers, we are learning that they, too, are finding that their predictive models were less reliable this year with some experiencing higher than typical yield rates and others a lower than typical yield. While the nation has made great improvements in response to the impact of COVID-19, the remaining uncertainty and impact on families (financial, medical, etc.) will affect campuses for many more months.

4) What has Spelman done to support students through the challenging impact colleges face due to COVID-19?

Spelman is proud to have been able to provide significant support to students since the impact of the pandemic began last February. Please see some of the ways the College has supported students:

  • The College provided pro-rated refunds in the spring of 2020 for housing (room), meal plans (board), parking and the mandatory fees that are most closely tied to campus activities.

  • For the 2020-2021 academic year, every student received a 10 percent discount to tuition and a 40 percent discount to mandatory fees; and tuition was not increased from the previous year. Spelman was one of few schools nationally to provide tuition and fees discounts.

  • For the 2021-2022 academic year, tuition and fee rates were reset to that of the academic year 2017-2018 levels. In other words, instead of an increase, the College returned or reset to lower tuition rates of earlier years.

  • When the announcement was made last summer that Spelman would continue virtual instruction in the fall 2020 semester, a housing stipend was made available to those students who had already signed a lease in the Atlanta area and were anticipating in-person instruction for the 2020-2021 academic year.

  • Just as each student needed to transition to remote learning in a very short period, every faculty member, including those who had never taught an online class, transitioned their courses to virtual in less than two weeks.

  • The College dispersed student emergency funds to assist students with various financial challenges such a food, rent, travel and technological needs.

  • Every student that needed a laptop, hotspot to access the Internet or another device to take classes was provided one

  • The College instituted the pass/fail option for grading.

  • Every member of Spelman’s staff, including the president, was required to take furlough days, as well as mandatory vacation.

  • The College provided an in-person Commencement for the Class of 2020.

We are working diligently to develop solutions that will make your Spelman academic and sisterhood experience valuable, memorable, and one that provides you with the foundation you need to become the change agents of your destinies.

We appreciate your advocacy for yourself and your sisters – and will continue to listen to you and engage with you as we develop the best solutions possible.

With understanding,
Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D.
President, Spelman College


Office of the President
Phone: 404-270-5001

Fax: 404-270-5010

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