Forty percent of academic year 2020-21’s admitted freshmen recently told surveyors they’re likely/highly likely to skip college this fall. And 28% of other students indicated they’d do the same. But unless college enrollment is absolutely impossible this year, make not delaying progress on your education part of your Pre-College Finance Plan.
You have good reasons to be reluctant about enrolling. Will you be safe from COVID-19 on campus? Will fellow students may behave in ways that spread it? Will online classes be worth the tuition and fees you pay for them, especially as some schools hit you with extra fees for providing those classes.
Even so, to keep college affordable, you’d be smart to make as much progress toward your degree or certificate as soon as you can, because your out-of-pocket (net) costs of attending a postsecondary school are likely to accelerate over the next several years.
Closing campuses, moving to online classes, and cancelling intercollegiate athletics are certainly the right things to do from a public health standpoint, but they’re also generating significant institutional revenue losses. Some school endowments can offset these losses. Most can’t. And since at least 35 states have already revised their 2021 revenue estimates downward, they’re unlikely to increase postsecondary appropriations. Result? In future years, tuition and fees will likely rise faster than their 5% per year jump over the last decade.
And during the next several years, cash-strapped states will find it difficult to impossible to keep their grants, scholarships, and work-study programs at current levels. This will accelerate net cost increases for students.
Speaking of scholarships, if you’ve been awarded one for 2020-21, you may not be able to keep it if you delay college until January or next academic year.
Must you borrow? The Federal Direct Loan Program’s (FDLP’s) interest rates are 0% through December 31. Thereafter, interest on FDLP loans for 2020-21 undergraduates will be 2.75% — the lowest ever. All of this’ll save you money when you start repaying your loans. But those 0% rates end on January 1, and for each academic year FDLP rates are set anew, so FDLP interest on future year loans will surely cost you more.
You may get housing and food refunds if campus closure makes living in a residence hall impossible for 2020-21, but your chances of getting such refunds are quite slim if you voluntarily give up dorm space that your school held for you.
If this fall’s only option is online courses, you can still get a lot out of those courses by really investing yourself in them. If you conclude that online credit hours won’t be worth the costs, go take transferable courses at a nearby community college. This can help you reduce how long you need to pay for school once your campus reopens.
With a future of fast-rising costs and financial aid uncertainty, make as much academic progress as you can as soon as you can. The savings will be worth it!
Are you scheduled to start your postsecondary education after this academic year? if you follow this website this fall at https://collegeafford.com, we’ll help you gather ideas for a Pre-College Finance Plan that’ll help you keep that education as affordable as possible when your day comes.