Study shows steep decline in students signed up for fall semester

Posted at 9:33 PM, Apr 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-01 11:08:19-04

BALTIMORE — It’s a week before the deadline to sign up for the fall semester at most colleges. It’s always a stressful but exciting time for parents and students.

Now it’s even more of a weird unknown. How am I going to pay for this when I’m not working what will college look like?

The Baltimore Based Art and Sciences group did a study that found some alarming numbers about high school seniors plans.

They surveyed high school seniors over a three day period and found 1 in 6 students have decided not to go to college in the fall anymore because of coronavirus.

“This is a significant impact. If any individual institution were to see a 17% decrease in enrollment they would be facing dire financial problems,” said Craig Goebel, a principal with the group.

They gather this information for colleges so they can work to see what they can do to get numbers back up.

Two thirds of students are concerned they won’t be able to go to their first choice because now they can’t afford it.

“Some of those students will be attending an institution part time in the fall or taking a semester or even a year off,” Goebel said. “Many of those students will be choosing institutions that are closer to home and or less expensive.”

The most frightening stat for institutions is that 12% of students who have sent in an enrollment deposit no longer plan to attend.

Added to that, 40% of students still haven’t sent a deposit anywhere with a week to go before the traditional deadline.

“The characteristics of those students is quite interesting,” Goebel said. “These are the traditionally disadvantaged students. They are the lower income students, the students more likely to be first generation to college."

He said both the 2008 recession and 9/11 had significant impacts, but they were different.

“The first one was more about security and the second one was more about economic concerns. What we’re seeing with the coronavirus pandemic is actually a combination of both. It is a security threat, a personal health threat and it’s an economic threat.”

Over half the students reported they had a parent that was laid off or furloughed— but financial aid looks at last years taxes—before coronavirus.

Now there is some good news for students.

“Many institutions are looking at scenarios where they would reduce tuition particularly if they are not able to provide the traditional residential experience this fall,” said Goebel. “We found that from students who we surveyed would expect to pay much less for tuition and fees if they don’t have a traditional college experience this fall.”

A future potentially put on hold—as institutions do their best to brace for the impact.