5 ways college is changing during the pandemic
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.