A Different Campus Than We Had
Ernie Neve, CPA
August 27, 2020
As school-age children return to one of several new ways to learn, college students are in uncharted territory, too. While many schools and universities have been using distance learning for years, this year marks the first time many can offer few other alternatives.
One of the most interesting things about this challenge is how it might impact the long-debated economics of tuition costs. Parents and students are asking hard questions about costs when much of the learning is remote and an even broader conversation is beginning as it relates to what “value” a particular institution brings to any degree versus a local or regional school in the COVID-19 world.
One thing is for sure, we’re seeing changes never before anticipated!
Here are a few things to watch, especially if your student is just starting to think about enrolling in the coming years…
Right now, enrollment is down by nearly 10%. Some of this is based on the lack of foreign students being issued visas, but there’s still a lot of it homegrown, especially for schools with high tuitions and less-than-stellar results in terms of the education they offer.
Smart students are starting at the community level. There’s been a national rise in the number of students enrolling at local schools, perhaps realizing they can get a lot of general studies courses out of the way at a fraction of the price they’d pay for out-of-state tuition.
Expect to see fewer faculty, staff, and even majors. In the last twenty years, there’s been an explosion in the types of specialized majors and the men and women to teach those courses. If enrollments stay lower in the next two years, you can expect to see many of those offerings cut as well as sports, activities, and even support staff.
The on-campus experience – socializing, parties, and even events like football games will likely be curtailed or cease entirely – at least this year. With so many schools at every level built for classrooms of thirty, class sizes will be cut, virtual learning will be the norm, and again, smart students and their parents will realize there is little benefit to paying a premium for an education that is only a shade of the so-called “college experience.”
All these and many more will impact – and likely change (for the better?) – the current climate where many colleges seemingly exist to merely saddle students with debt before they enter the workforce.
Another trend we are likely to see is more students entering tech schools or learning trades, as many of those have proven to be pandemic-proof. Even more likely? Students who learn a trade, then continue their education online while they work, allowing them to move from a skilled trade into white-collar jobs quickly.
No matter what, it’s going to be a very different environment for a lot of people.
If you’ve got a student getting close to college, now is a great time to sit down with me and the team to discuss how financial aid, taxes, and even college funding can be set up and paid for – in some cases, tax-free.
We’re here for you to help sort this out!