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Report Reveals How COVID-19 Is Changing Students’ College Plans



I was quite surprised by some findings of a survey done by Strada Education Network. The most surprising result gathered from over 8,000 adults was that, overall, 34 percent of American adults (ages 18 to 64) have canceled or changed education plans due to the pandemic. That’s significant.

Imagine how that statistic is affecting higher education. As you may have seen from my recent articles, colleges and universities are scrambling to make decisions and create contingency plans for their Fall 2020 semesters. The impact of the changes and cancellations from this 18 to 64 age group will further fan the flames of uncertainty that are making the coming fall school year so difficult for administrators to plan.

Plan Adjustments Shift Based on Age

Other survey findings include:

While young adults were the most likely to cancel or change their plans, when those ages 25 to 44 did alter their plans, they were more likely to cancel or delay their educations as opposed to making other changes such as a reduction in course hours or change of school.

This may have to do with independence. Older adults, such as those in the 25 to 44 age group, are likely not living with the benefit of parents who could provide financial support and strategic counsel. For these adults, canceling or delaying educational plans may be the result of a job loss or job change caused by the pandemic. The loss of this group’s revenue stream will make a strong negative impact on colleges, since older adults have been a growing demographic on campus. Specifically, a 35 percent increase in college students aged 25 to 34 occurred between 2001 and 2015. Between 2015 and 2026, enrollment is projected to increase 11 percent.

Among those who are not currently enrolled, Americans ages 25 to 44 are just as likely to start a new program in the next six months as those ages 18 to 24.

Beyond the 34 percent who plan to cancel or change their education plans, this 25 to 44 segment of older adults offers some good news for college planners. How much these new-program seekers will affect college revenue, though, remains to be seen. Schools that have the resources to exploit this opportunity should be doing targeted marketing to this demographic. As savvy marketers know, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, Reddit and other social media platforms each offer different ways to reach this group. Again, the unpredictability of the coming six months will make it difficult to project enrollments from these prospective enrollees.

Those with postsecondary degrees or credentials are more likely to enroll in all types of education than those without postsecondary degrees or credentials.

Education inspires education. For example, bachelor’s degree holders often encounter career advancement opportunities with a master’s degree. The phrase “all types of education” includes graduate study, both on campus and online. With some 30 million currently seeking unemployment benefits due to COVID-19, some in that group with postsecondary degrees may view the pandemic-related pause in their careers as a chance to enhance their profiles by taking additional classes or even entering a formal graduate-level program. Colleges are now using CARES funds to incentivize enrollments through financial aid grants, so the educational cost factor has been eased.

Families are ranked as the most valuable source of advice about education or training for those considering enrolling.

The concept of role model as counselor is a strong influence here. I see this survey finding pertaining more to the 18 to 24 age group than to the 25 to 44 demographic, due to the relative independence of the latter. The younger group is, in general, much more likely to have ongoing contact with some degree of a nuclear family. That, in turn, presents opportunities for guidance and specific counseling about careers. The role of the parent is critical and can be highly influential for teens and early 20-somethings who are looking for educational direction.

Consider These Resources

You may be in one of the groups mentioned above. You also may find yourself in one or more of the circumstances cited in the five key survey findings. Because of the urgency that COVID-19 has brought to our personal circumstances, discovering trends and populace attitudes can help us develop strategies and make important decisions. Here are four resources that can give you insights into targeted trends and help you evaluate and plan for your financial and educational needs during these challenging times.

The Coronavirus Impact on Personal Finances

The April 2020 AP-NORC Poll finds that evaluations of the economy continue to decline as Americans start to feel effects of the coronavirus outbreak on personal finances.

With businesses shuttered across the country in response to the coronavirus outbreak, Americans are taking an increasingly negative view of the US economy as many of them start to feel the effects of economic turmoil. Many report lost jobs or income and trouble paying bills. Yet, they also remain fairly optimistic about their personal finances over the next year. And while they remain supportive of social distancing measures enacted by state and local governments, they also want the government to provide more financial assistance to individual Americans and small businesses.

The public’s view of the US economy continues to decline in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Since January, when 67% described the national economy as good, the share who say the economy is doing well has declined to just 29%

College And University Presidents Respond to COVID-19: April 2020 Survey

In a time of unprecedented crisis, the American Council on Education knows that it is more valuable than ever to have an up-to-date record of the concerns and challenges faced by college and university presidents. In early April, ACE fielded the first of 12 monthly Pulse Point surveys to gather presidents’ insights and experiences with COVID-19 and its effects on their institutions and the larger higher education landscape. In this first survey, 192 presidents shared their most pressing concerns and assessed their institution’s capacity and needs on prominent COVID-19 issues, including financial impact, remote learning, and student mental health

Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2019

This report describes the responses to the 2019 Survey of Household Economics and Decisionmaking (SHED) as well as responses to a follow-up survey conducted in April 2020. The Federal Reserve Board has fielded this survey each fall since 2013 to under- stand the wide range of financial challenges and opportunities facing families in the United States.

The findings in this report primarily reflect the financial circumstances of families in the United States in late 2019, prior to the onset of COVID-19 and the associated financial disruptions. At that time, overall financial well-being was similar to that seen in 2018 for most measures in the survey. Consistent with economic improvements over the prior six years, families were faring substantially better than they were when the survey began in 2013. Even so, the results highlight areas of persistent challenges and economic disparities across financial measures, even before the spread of COVID-19 in the United States. In particular, the substantial disparities in overall well-being by race and ethnicity remained in 2019, and the disparity by education widened in recent years

Higher Education and COVID-19 National Student Survey

In April 2020, EY-Parthenon surveyed 3,675 current college students (freshman through juniors) across four- and two-year public and private institutions to assess the impact of COVID-19 on higher education delivery and student expectations.

The survey measured students’ outlooks on topics such as online course quality, advising and tutoring, social/engagement enhancements, academic improvements, overall satisfaction with remote learning, and expectations for the fall term. The goal was to provide insights to US colleges and universities to help them improve remote engagement and learning for students

The Strada survey page lists additional resources that can provide important information. I encourage you to stay in touch with Strada. They will continue to update their COVID-19 Resource Center with new data, future strategies and virtual events. They’ll track surveys and findings from numerous sources that assess COVID-19’s impact on Americans’ attitudes and experiences related to education and work. Use these facts to enhance your situation as the pandemic continues to evolve.


By: Dave Berry
Title: Report Reveals How COVID-19 Is Changing Students’ College Plans
Sourced From:
Published Date: Wed, 27 May 2020 13:43:28 +0000

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Apply Online For Student Loans



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Webinar Recap: How COVID-19 is Affecting Financial Aid



Many families are facing new financial challenges in light of the coronavirus emergency, and College Confidential has fielded dozens of questions on this topic recently. To address those queries, we hosted a webinar on April 9 entitled “Paying for College Amid Changes Due to the Impact of COVID-19.”

During the event, moderated by Aaron Murphy, manager of learning and development with Inside Track, the following panelists offered their perspectives on the issue:

  • Denise Trusty, director of financial aid with Morehead State University
  • Laura Reisert Kalinkewicz, associate vice president of college partnerships with RaiseMe
  • Amy Nelson, director of sales at International Scholarship and Tuition Services
  • Charlie Javice, founder and CEO of Frank.

Check out the following topics that the panelists discussed, along with their views of how things may unfold amid the financial challenges brought on by the coronavirus outbreak.

Family Finances Changed? Contact Your Schools

If you plan to start college in the fall as a freshman — or return to school as an existing student — and your financial situation has changed since you applied for financial aid, you should contact the colleges on your list immediately. Financial aid departments can consider appeals for more money, but must base these decisions on each individual student’s situation, Trusty said.

“I know with Morehead State, where I work, we will be doing professional judgement calls on all students who say they’ve been affected,” she noted. “We will reach out to those students to see what we can do to help them maybe obtain additional funding, additional grants, scholarships, whatever they would be eligible for. We do professional judgment all the time for our students, because things happen all the time. This year will be an especially large amount of those, I’m sure, but those are up to individual schools to make that call for their students.”

In addition, she added, the Department of Education has set aside over $6 billion for additional grants and scholarships that the universities will be able to use. “Currently, I don’t know how that’s all going to play into this,” Trusty said. “So that will be up to each individual university on how they lay those out. I know it will be beneficial, I just don’t know how available that will be to each student.”

Keep in mind that schools are accustomed to reviewing financial aid appeals, and they all have processes in place for to do so. “It is really, really important to know that schools typically leave a budget from 10 percent to 20 percent or so of their financial aid dollars for what would be called a professional judgment bucket,”Javice said. “Therefore, there is additional money to be had, and it’s up to you to request it. You should approach your school as soon as you know you might need more money, and be prepared to show supporting documentation demonstrating how your finances are different from when you filed your FAFSA initially. This might require proof of a job loss, medical bills, a cut in pay or another such issue, Javice said.

In addition, if another school gave you a better financial offer, you can petition the school that gave you the lower offer for more money, Javice noted. “This typically works better for private institutions versus public state schools, given the fact that they have a little bit more discrepancy and more dollars to put to work in terms of a tuition discount,” she added. “This is solely up to the school on a case by case basis.” In some cases, the money is distributed on a first come, first serve timeline, so don’t wait if you know you need more aid.

Although financial aid can be a stressful topic, try not to be emotional when you request more money, Javice added. You’ll get a lot further by having organized documentation to present than you would by getting angry or upset, she noted.

Consider Outside Scholarships

The coronavirus situation has changed plans not only for incoming freshmen, but also for current college students, Nelson said. “Organizations are stepping up and trying to find ways to provide additional scholarship opportunities this year,” she noted. Students should be proactive in seeking those options.

Raise Me is offering new micro-scholarships for students who are seeking additional funding sources, Kalinkewicz said. In addition, she encourages students to ask colleges for more time to make decisions, even if the school hasn’t extended its deposit process. You can always try and request additional time to get your financial aid package right, she noted.

Finding more money is not relegated to younger students, Javice added. “Adult learners comprise the biggest group of people actually going to college today,” she noted. It’s very common for people to be seeking new types of skills and going back to college to gain additional degrees. Financial aid is available to adult learners, and they may even get aid to pay such costs as rent, she added. In addition, they can seek outside scholarships or employer-matching funds to pay for their educations.

Not Necessarily Too Late to File FAFSA

Students who didn’t file a FAFSA already should do that as soon as possible so you can get access to financial aid funds, Javice said. Federal FAFSA deadlines are usually in June, but states make their own deadlines for state aid. Some states, such as New Jersey, have moved their deadlines back for this year, so check to make sure you stay on top of your deadlines.

And if you file for financial aid and you decide you don’t want it, you can always decline the financial offer or portions of that offer, Nelson said. Your best bet is to apply so you can take what you need and decline any amounts you don’t need. Even if you don’t think you qualify for financial aid, you should apply anyway because you could be surprised at what you’re offered. “You really need to complete that [FAFSA] process every year,” Nelson said. “The process is very easy, and jobs can come and go. It’s your safety net and you want to make sure you’ve completed it. It makes it a whole lot easier when situations like this arise.”

Some colleges also have supplemental applications to fill out for particular types of aid, so always reach out to your financial aid office for information on which documentation you should be completing, Kalinkewicz said.

Could Families — Not Schools — Be in the Driver’s Seat?

Because many merit scholarships are based on test scores and GPAs, some high school juniors are concerned that they won’t have access to those in the coming year. With test dates being canceled and grades moving to pass/fail, they fear they won’t meet the criteria to earn such scholarships.

“It’s clear to me that colleges and universities know the extraordinary circumstances we’re under,” Nelson said. “All schools are leaning forward and considering all options as the situation develops. I would continue to encourage juniors to stay engaged and stay informed.” You should also watch to see what happens with test dates, she said. The ACT and SAT dates could change, and some schools may forego the need for a test score altogether, she added.

In addition, some merit scholarships that have traditionally been based on test scores may become test optional, Kalinkewicz noted.

Keep in mind that in many cases, families are in the driver’s seat rather than having the colleges be in charge, Javice said. Some schools have lost revenue and are very eager for students right now, “so if you are scared because you thought you could never get into a specific school from an admission criteria standpoint, this is your year to stretch, this is your year to think about the schools that are your reach category and go for it, because schools need the money and need the students. So the power that used to be in an admissions office is in you, the student or the family’s hands,” she said.

She also advises juniors to request application waivers from schools to save the $50 to $100 or so per application that they would normally pay. The schools may say no, but it won’t hurt to ask, she advised. “Persistence is key when dealing with schools,” Javice noted.

Federal Student Loans Payment Suspended

As many families are aware, payments on federal student loans are automatically suspended from March 13 through September 30, 2020 thanks to the government’s CARES Act. This is essential to keep in mind, particularly for families that have multiple children in various stages of the college process.

“You will stop paying your loans and you will have zero interest from now until September 30, and that’s important for parents to know,” Nelson said regarding existing federal student loans. “If you had an auto draft, the auto draft has been shut off and will not continue. You can, however, continue to make those payments if you’d like, and any interest you had before March 13, once that interest is paid up, all your payments will go directly toward your principal.” She advises families with federally-backed loans to check with their loan servicing agents, because they have a lot of information for both parent and student borrowers on how the CARES Act will impact payments for the next six months.

Student Job Gone? Colleges Might Help

For students who expect to earn money via part-time or full-time work to pay for college, but can’t do so due to the coronavirus, colleges may have resources to help. “There are many colleges and universities that have put together emergency grants for students to cover expenses that they were maybe not expecting because of COVID-19,” Nelson said. “They are making accommodations to try and make up for that lost income for students.”

Trusty said Morehead State is continuing to pay students who were on federal work-study. “If they had a job, we are still paying them right now as if they were working, although they are not. In the summer, those funds will be flipped over to emergency grant funds. So we will make sure that our students are covered and can live as if they were employed with the work-study position.”

Some colleges have even made remote work available to students, Kalinkewicz added. Therefore, contact your financial aid office to determine if any accommodations are available to make up for lost student income whenever possible.

Consider Other Options to Save

If you are seeking ways to save money on college, you should also consider other resources, whether that means less expensive colleges, in-state options or potentially transferring down the road, Janice said. You can also save money by taking classes at a community college to pay a lower cost for your credits that can be transferred to a four-year college later.

“If you have that target institution in mind — maybe you’ve already been admitted there but your family has determined a year of community college will really help stretch things further — work on articulation agreements or a plan so you are taking the right classes that actually have the ability to transfer toward the degree you want at your target institution, not necessarily just as credit,” Kalinkewicz said.

In addition, many colleges offer merit aid for transfer students, she added. So always look for every potential financial aid and scholarship resource to best maximize your package and allow your dollars to stretch as far as possible.

Resource: To review the entire hour-long webinar, you can watch the replay here.

Share Your Thoughts

We’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Check out our forum to contribute to the conversation!

By: Torrey Kim
Title: Webinar Recap: How COVID-19 is Affecting Financial Aid
Sourced From:
Published Date: Fri, 10 Apr 2020 15:22:20 +0000

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