Financial aid 2020: College may be even more out of reach for students this fall

Posted September 01, 2020 by

Affording college has been a major struggle for many Americans over the past few decades. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, college tuition may be even more out of reach than before.

College Finance recently conducted a study of more than 1,000 college students to find out if the pandemic and economic turmoil were impacting their ability to pay for school. We’ll run you through the financial implications of the coronavirus on college tuition and explain the most common options students are exploring to secure affordable higher education.

Nearly half of all college students are worried about high tuition costs

This study found that 42% of college students reported the current economic conditions caused by the pandemic were impacting their ability to afford college.

Of those students, 38.8% reported they were not receiving enough scholarship or grant money to cover their college costs. Although the federal government issued emergency financial aid money for students at colleges across the country, there is not enough money to help all struggling students.

In addition, 36.9% reported job loss or a reduction in income as the sole reason they could not afford college. Nearly 15% reported having to use their college savings in light of the pandemic.

Options for students facing financial hardship

Since a large percentage of students are scrambling to figure out how to afford higher education, many are turning to alternative options. For many students, that means exploring different, more affordable colleges and universities.

This fall, 39.6% of the students facing economic trouble are turning to community college, rather than their current or expected college. In addition, 28.3% are turning to public state or local universities. 

Of all the students surveyed, a little more than half reported applying for financial aid. In fact, 26% of students cited their financial aid letter as the main reason they reconsidered attending school this fall. 

On average, the students surveyed received $8,906 in financial aid for the fall semester, which, unfortunately, is not nearly enough to cover the costs of attending most public colleges, let alone private universities. This might explain why so many students are instead turning to community college options this fall.

Another option that most college students aren’t aware they can explore is appealing their financial aid letter. Only a quarter of all survey respondents repealed their financial aid, and of those students, 5.9% were awarded more aid. Forty-four percent of students who appealed their financial aid did so because of a lost job or income reduction. Of those who were awarded additional aid, 74% were satisfied with the new amount they received.

The bottom line

The global pandemic has impacted all Americans on many levels and has left many college students financially unable to attend their school of choice. Although it might be possible to negotiate your financial aid package, many students are searching for more affordable options – be that a community college or public university.

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