Brown providing comprehensive support for current and incoming Ukrainian students

In the wake of the war in Ukraine, the University is supporting Ukrainian students with financial assistance, summer housing, counseling and more.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — In the midst of the war in Ukraine, where thousands have died and millions have lost their homes or fled the country for safer territory, Brown University is providing extensive financial and personal support to current and incoming Ukrainian students.

The University will cover 100% of the cost of a Brown education for all 10 Ukrainian members of the undergraduate Class of 2026 who have committed to attending. And staff at Brown are making every effort to help those incoming students cross borders, obtain visas and come to College Hill as early as Summer 2022. 

Brown is also working with incoming Ukrainian graduate students and current Ukrainian students in all degree programs to meet their needs — not only offering monetary support to account for students’ changing financial situations on a case-by-case basis, but also ensuring they have access to summer housing, summer work opportunities, counseling services, and any additional assistance they need as a result of altered personal and family circumstances.

“Providing full support to all of our Ukrainian students — whether they expect to graduate soon or whether they have yet to arrive — is part of our duty as a global institution committed to supporting research and learning for all,” said Dean of Admission Logan Powell. “We are dedicated to doing all we can to ensure these students feel safe and secure in this difficult and uncertain time, including providing them with increased counseling services, covering their fees and giving them summer housing if they need it.”

Powell said it’s inevitable that many among the 10 Ukrainian students who will join Brown’s Class of 2026 find themselves in very different situations than when they applied in late 2021. Some may now live with family members in Poland or other neighboring countries, with little to no access to bank accounts or internet service. Others may still be in violence-torn Ukrainian cities such as Mariupol, having been drafted to defend the country’s borders as members of the military. Some may be witnessing the violence from abroad, alone and worried for their friends and families.

“ There’s next to no chance that most of these students’ lives are going on as usual. We felt it was crucial to support them by reducing their expected family contribution to zero, regardless of their prior circumstances. ”

James Tilton Dean of Financial Aid

For all of those students who have the ability to leave Ukraine, Dean of Financial Aid James Tilton said, the University has promised to provide scholarships covering the full cost of tuition, fees, room and board, school supplies and other expenses associated with a Brown education for the 2022-23 academic year. In subsequent years, the University will work closely with the students to determine what critical support they need, recognizing that their families’ access to financial assets may change over time.

“There’s next to no chance that most of these students’ lives are going on as usual,” Tilton said. “We felt it was crucial to support them by reducing their expected family contribution to zero, regardless of their prior circumstances.”

Powell said the University is also doing all it can to help students obtain U.S. visas, secure flights and meet other logistical challenges. The University has already mobilized a cadre of alumni in Poland to help students with communications and planning, and administrators stand ready to provide additional assistance to incoming students in need. Powell said that for students who are able to arrive in Providence in the summer, rather than in the fall, the University will cover housing and meals and will waive the summer earnings expectation typically required of students who receive scholarship support to stay on campus between academic years. Leaders in the Division of Campus Life are planning a pre-orientation program especially for incoming Ukrainian students, offering them a chance to adjust, bond and get to know campus and the local area before other students arrive.

“Responding to the shifting situation in Ukraine has been a uniquely challenging and complex process,” Powell said. “We already know that this will be a highly individualized process based on each student’s unique circumstances. But for now, we are focusing on providing them with peace of mind and as smooth a transition to Brown as possible.” 

Support for Brown’s current students from Ukraine

Tilton and Ethan Bernstein, associate dean of administration and operations at the Graduate School, said the University has also committed to meeting the full financial need of the Ukrainian undergraduate and graduate students (who number in the single digits) who already attend Brown, recognizing that they, too, may now be in very different positions than they were before Russia’s invasion. Some Ukrainian undergraduate and master’s students received full scholarships from Brown when they were admitted, and their support will continue unchanged; the same applies to Ukrainian Ph.D. students, who, like all of their doctoral peers, receive five or six years of guaranteed funding from the Graduate School when they arrive, depending on their area of study. Any undergraduate and master’s students who have suffered financial loss as a result of the conflict are invited to petition for financial aid reconsideration.

Asabe Poloma, Brown’s associate provost for global engagement, said leaders across the University are also working with current undergraduate and graduate students to provide summer housing, if needed, and to assist eligible students with finding on-campus work for the summer. They’re also responding to requests for additional financial assistance on a case-by-case basis; some students have received E-gap funds, which are meant to assist with emergency costs and unexpected miscellaneous expenses.

But Ukrainian students’ needs aren’t just financial, Poloma said. Many are concerned about their mental health, having spent more than two months watching violence unfold in their hometowns and even losing friends and family. Faculty and staff across campus are working together to provide students with both academic and emotional support, from counseling services to community gatherings to academic assistance. In light of the federal government’s new temporary protections for Ukrainians living in the U.S., staff in Brown’s Office of International Student and Scholar Services are providing advising support and referral to University-sponsored external immigration counsel for students who are eligible. And Brown’s staff are reaching out to Russian students, too, to ensure they don’t feel marginalized at a time when many Russians and Russian Americans have experienced backlash. 

“Some clear themes emerged in meetings with our students,” Poloma said. “Ukrainian students need housing and support for summer, given that they face barriers to travel and uncertainty around their future. Ukrainian and Russian students need help unpacking the trauma of what is happening to their loved ones. And they need faculty and fellow students to understand how that trauma may be impacting their academic performance. Creating spaces for students, staff and faculty who share a home and heritage, preventing those feelings of isolation, is a priority for us this spring.” 

Jay Rowan, chief of staff and associate provost for strategy in the Office of the Provost, said Brown hopes to eventually take in additional scholars from Ukraine who have been displaced from their home country. As a founding member of the New University in Exile Consortium, which supports scholars who are at risk due to war or political persecution, the University is also committed to bringing displaced Ukrainian and Russian scholars and researchers to campus. Rowan and Poloma have convened a committee of administrators and faculty members with ties to the country to initiate a search for eligible scholars.

The University’s response to the violence in Ukraine, Rowan said, is not unlike its response to other global conflicts. In Fall 2021, Brown welcomed 15 Afghan students who fled Kabul in the wake of the Taliban’s return to power; they’ve spent the Spring 2022 semester studying politics, economics and public health. The University has offered full scholarships to students from Myanmar since early 2021, when a military coup caused a crippling cash shortage, closing banks and leaving people unable to use mobile money services. After Hurricane María devastated Puerto Rico in 2017, Brown enrolled students from the island’s flagship university. And the University continues to work with the Scholars at Risk network to bring to Brown scholars from Afghanistan, Syria, and other countries where war or political tensions prevent them from conducting high-impact academic research.

“At the moment, the challenges of transporting students and scholars to the U.S. are almost mind-blowing, sometimes even insurmountable,” Rowan said. “We anticipate that finding and bringing these scholars to Brown will be a time-consuming but ultimately rewarding process.”