Colleges cancel commencement ceremonies amid coronavirus concerns

  • As colleges nationwide move online for classes and advise resident students to move out, some are now taking it one step further.
  • Amid coronavirus concerns, some colleges are now canceling their spring commencement ceremonies.

A growing number of colleges and universities across the country are canceling spring commencement ceremonies over coronavirus concerns.

More than a dozen colleges and universities, from California to schools -- Berea College in Kentucky, Brigham Young University in Utah, Grambling State University in Lousiana, Grinnell College in Iowa, Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia, University of California-Irvine, University of Michigan, and West Texas A&M University -- have all announced they will either cancel or postpone spring commencement ceremonies this year. 

Multiple other colleges have said they are considering whether to cancel commencement ceremonies as well. 

[RELATED: Colleges nationwide tell students to leave dorms early...but won't promise refunds]

The moves to cancel commencement ceremonies come as colleges have moved all classes online, in many cases through the end of the spring semester. A number of schools are also requiring students to move out of their dorms, without promising they'll receive refunds. Others, however, are encouraging students to vacate campus housing if they can but allowing them to stay if they have nowhere else to go. 

W. Joseph King, president of Lyon College in Arkansas, told Inside Higher Education recently that colleges being forced to issue room and board refunds "will cause real problems." 

“Every residential college and university in America relies on that auxiliary revenue stream. It is baked into the budget,” King told the outlet. “Significant refunds will cause real problems at many institutions. It will just be worse for those with tighter or deficit budgets.”

However, colleges could recoup a large amount of that money by canceling commencement ceremonies. 

As the Associated Press pointed out: 

Canceling commencement can carry financial implications for schools. Some spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on ceremonies featuring celebrity speakers, dining spreads and other displays of pomp and circumstance. At the University of Michigan, students were expecting to hear a keynote address from former Vice President Al Gore.

[RELATED: Colleges nationwide respond to coronavirus by canceling in-person classes]

Below is a list of schools moving classes online, as well as whether they are requiring students to move off-campus, whether they'll offer refunds, and whether they'll cancel commencement ceremonies. 

If you know of a school that has canceled commencement, let us know by emailing

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Jon Street | Managing Editor

Jon Street is a news editor for Campus Reform. Six years ago, Jon cut his reporting teeth fresh out of college as an intern at Media Research Center's, where he interviewed multiple members of Congress and former presidential candidates. From there, he went on to complete a stint at, where his exclusive, investigative work was picked up or cited by the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox News, National Review, and the Drudge Report, among others. More recently, Jon spent three years as an assistant editor at In his free time, Jon enjoys trying new coffeehouses around the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area and traveling back to his home state of Missouri to spend time with his family.

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