5 ways col­lege is chang­ing dur­ing the pan­demic

Daily Press (Sunday) - - Work & Money - By Stacey Ra­pa­con Ki­plinger’s Per­sonal Fi­nance

Col­leges quickly went to on­line learn­ing in the spring as COVID-19 spread. And they’re still evolv­ing. Here are five changes fam­i­lies can ex­pect this fall.

As fam­i­lies strug­gle through the pan­demic re­ces­sion, fewer stu­dents are likely to be able to af­ford the high cost of col­lege. About half of col­lege pres­i­dents ex­pect fall en­roll­ment to be lower in 2020 com­pared with 2019, ac­cord­ing to a June sur­vey by the Amer­i­can Coun­cil on Ed­u­ca­tion.

How­ever, past eco­nomic down­turns have typ­i­cally seen an in­crease in col­lege en­roll­ment. Fol­low­ing past patterns,

1. Lower en­roll­ment.

Moody’s In­vestor Ser­vice es­ti­mates that higher ed­u­ca­tion en­roll­ment could ac­tu­ally rise 2% to 4% for the fall, ac­cord­ing to a June re­port.

Ei­ther way, en­roll­ment lev­els are at risk among in­ter­na­tional stu­dents, who tend to pay full price, mak­ing them more lu­cra­tive en­rollees. Travel re­stric­tions could de­ter some from at­tend­ing school in the United States.

Rev­enue per stu­dent is ex­pected to drop by 5% to 13%, ac­cord­ing to Moody’s. Mar­ket tur­moil is threat­en­ing en­dow­ment funds. Fed­eral and state fund­ing is likely to be cut, as gov­ern­ment bud­gets get squeezed them­selves. All that means tighter bud­gets, so schools will have to cut spend­ing, de­lay cam­pus con­struc

2. Tighter bud­gets.

tion, freeze salaries and lay off staff. Ul­ti­mately, fewer schools will re­main.

Kevin Walker, pub­lisher of Col­legeFi­nance.com, es­ti­mates that 100 to 200 schools may close or merge within the next three years.

Look for an ex­plo­sion of on­line learn­ing op­tions to gen­er­ate new rev­enue. Tra­di­tional schools still lag lead­ing on­line ed­u­ca­tors, such as for-profit col­leges. That spells more sales to col­leges by lead­ing soft­ware ven­dors, such as Black­board, Can­vas and Moo­dle.

In­no­va­tion in ed­u­ca­tion tech­nol­ogy will ac­cel­er­ate. Look for more vir­tual ex­pe­ri­ences that feel like a real class­room, as well as ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence tools to au­to­mate grad­ing.

3. More ed­u­ca­tion tech­nol­ogy.

In an ef­fort to bal­ance bud­gets bleed­ing red ink, 224 col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties had laid off, fur­loughed or opted to not re­new con­tracts for nearly 51,800 em­ploy­ees as of July, ac­cord­ing to the Chron­i­cle of Higher Ed­u­ca­tion. The fall­out could lead to worse stu­dent-fac­ulty ra­tios and fewer stu­dent ac­tiv­i­ties.

4. Smaller staffs.

To up­date poli­cies and pro­ce­dures in ac­cor­dance with coro­n­avirus re­stric­tions, schools are cob­bling together so­lu­tions, from COVID-19 quar­an­tine dorms to Plex­i­glas-di­vided lec­ture halls. And whether man­dated or rec­om­mended, so­cial-dis­tanc­ing eti­quette — wear­ing a mask, stay­ing 6 feet apart and lim­it­ing gather­ings, es­pe­cially in­doors — is cer­tain to change the col­lege ex­pe­ri­ence.

5. No par­ties?

Stacy Ra­pa­con is a con­tribut­ing writer to Ki­plinger’s Per­sonal Fi­nance mag­a­zine.

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