All Penn State students must have a COVID-19 test on file with the University

To get started, students should visit the ‘Know Your Status’ Portal
An image of the Nittany Lion mascot, with words that read, "Do I need to take a COVID-19 test now?"
Credit: Penn State

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — As part of the University’s comprehensive testing strategy for the spring semester, all Penn State students must meet requirements for COVID-19 testing prior to their return or if they are already living in their campus community. Students who do not complete the requirements will not be able to move in to on-campus housing and/or to participate in on-campus activities until they complete the testing process. Self-test kits will be provided to students at no cost.

To get started, all students should first log in to the “Know Your Status” portal and check their test status. For help with planning, students also can use the COVID-19 Testing Requirements Checklist.

All students must either:

  • Receive a negative result from a University-provided Vault Health mail-in COVID-19 test; negative test results from other sources will not be accepted (students do not need to upload their negative test results to the portal); or
  • Have a positive test result on file from a University test from within the last 90 days, including Penn State fall departure or walk-up testing (students do not need to upload test results to the portal); or
  • Upload for approval a third-party positive test result from within the last 90 days (the result must be from a PCR test; rapid antigen tests and antibody tests will not be accepted).

The University continues to urge students to postpone their return to their campus community until the start of in-person classes on Feb. 15 unless it is necessary for work, academic-program-specific reasons or other important circumstances.

How do I know if I need to take a COVID-19 test?

All students are required to log in to the “Know Your Status” portal to make sure they have completed the testing requirement. The University requires students to have a test result on file within 72 hours of their intended return.

The following provides guidance for certain groups; however, students also can contact the COVID-19 Response Center at 814-865-2121 with specific questions about testing or the portal.

  • Students, including graduate students, international and off-campus students who remained in a campus community over winter break or returned early are required to participate.
  • Undergraduate and graduate students who have received a positive test result at walk-up testing on campus within the last 90 days, including over the winter break, must still check their test status in the Know Your Status portal, but do not need to complete testing.
  • All students taking remote or online classes who will be living within 20 miles of a Penn State campus and all students who live in Centre County are required to participate. 
  • All World Campus students who are living within 20 miles of a Penn State campus are required to participate.
  • Students who have an approved internship, clinical, practicum or other in-person learning experience are required to participate.
  • As of Jan. 26, 2021, individuals who are traveling to the United States from abroad will be required to show a negative COVID-19 test — completed within 72 hours of departure — before being permitted to board their plane to the United States. International students will also be expected to complete the Penn State COVID-19 testing when they arrive at their campus or campus community.
  • Students who have received a COVID-19 vaccine are still required to participate in the University’s testing programs this spring.

Testing timeline for students:

Students should use the timeline instructions below to count backward and determine the dates when they need to complete each step. Please plan accordingly to avoid shipping delays, for example due to potential inclement winter weather.


21 days before you plan to arrive or if you are already in your campus community: Log in to the “Know Your Status” Portal to get started.

  • Know Your Status can also be accessed on the Penn State Go app, which is available to download in the Google Play Store and Apple App Store.
  • Log in with your Penn State Access Account to check your “test status” and track your progress through the testing process; the University also will be able to track your progress.
  • You need to complete a University-provided COVID-19 test before you return, unless you have a COVID-positive test result from the last 90 days on record in the portal. You can also upload a positive test result from the last 90 days from a third-party PCR test.  
  • Keep in mind, the timing to order and complete the test will vary for each student depending on their planned return.


14 days (at least) before: Order your at-home test kit

  • Vault Health will mail your test kit to your current place of residence, along with detailed instructions to complete the test with a Vault Health representative virtually.


Five days before: Take your test and mail it back five days before you plan to return to your campus community. A pre-paid UPS expedited shipping label is included (do not use the U.S. Postal Service).

  • During the period of several days before and after being tested, you should take extra precautions. As much as possible, limit your interactions with others to only the essentials. 
  • Don't eat, drink or chew gum for 30 minutes prior to taking your test.
  • Take your test in a Zoom meeting with a Vault Health representative.


Three days before: Students should receive test results from Vault Health within 72 hours of the test arriving at the lab. Test results will be automatically uploaded to the University’s portal.

  • If your test result is positive: Isolate at home and do not return to campus or your campus community. Contact tracers from Penn State will reach out to you to offer support and guidance on the time period for isolation.
  • If your test result is negative: Continue to limit interactions with those outside your household and take health and safety precautions during your travel to your campus community or if you are living in your campus community.


Get ready for arrival: Students must be able to check off the following: 

  • You have checked the Know Your Status portal once again to confirm you have completed the testing requirement.
  • You have self-quarantined for at least seven days immediately prior to your arrival and before moving in to on- or off-campus housing. 
  • You are complying with travel requirements. The University’s test plan will enable students who complete testing to meet Pennsylvania travel requirements.
  • You are not COVID-19 positive, do not have symptoms of COVID-19, and have not been in close contact with someone who has tested positive or is suspected of having COVID-19; if you are or have been, do not return to campus or your Penn State campus community.

Frequently asked questions:

The following are top questions about testing requirements from students. For additional FAQs about testing, visit Penn State’s Virus Information site.

Students also can contact the COVID-19 Response Center at 814-865-2121 with specific questions about testing or the portal. Information for employees, including frequently asked questions, is available on Penn State's Virus Information site.