Did you know that 53 colleges closed permanently in the 2019-2020 school year alone? Colleges across the country have been experiencing drops in enrollment, especially in recent years. In fact, undergraduate enrollment decreased by almost 8% between 2019 and 2021. In 2022, colleges have seen 1 million fewer students enroll compared to before the pandemic.
Decreasing interest in college as well as candidate pools growing smaller each year have contributed to the fall in enrollment. The prevalent occurrence of people finding jobs unrelated to their college major as well as rising college costs have also caused lower enrollment rates. During recent years, the pandemic has also led several students to unenroll or drop out due to the impact of COVID-19 on finances.
Financial strain caused by the pandemic has impacted high schoolers’ plans after graduation as well. 36% of parents have used money originally saved for their child’s college funds to pay for expenses during the pandemic. Several high schoolers have rethunk their plans after graduation by considering cheaper college options or being open to a gap year to save for college.
Public and community colleges have seen a significant dip in enrollment rates between 2019 and 2021, but highly selective colleges actually saw an increase in enrollment that has put them back to pre-pandemic levels. Almost 80% of schools with less than 5,000 students also faced more hardship in terms of maintaining appropriate revenue levels and enrollment rates compared to schools with more than 30,000 students. With an overall decrease in enrollment throughout the nation, schools must seriously compete for students to maintain proper revenue gains from tuition.
Selective colleges and Ivy League schools are able to struggle less with decreasing enrollments and revenue as the public usually views popular degrees having higher value from these schools. They also have large endowments that allow them to offer generous financial aid packages to incoming students. Plus, endowments are able to be used by universities to pay for student aid programs, research, general operations, and any other similar activities.
Higher education is a huge investment, so it’s important to make the right choice in line with your finances. You can determine the financial health of your college before officially enrolling by looking over official documents such as endowment reports. Being prepared for a possible shutdown can also be helpful by understanding how credits might be transferred, contacting your local legal aid office, and researching your eligibility for full refund of payments and possibly garnished wages.
You can still choose the right college for you by investing wisely and thinking about the long run.