Coronavirus Resources and Advice from Edmit
- From our team at Edmit, we hope you are staying safe and sane in light of the rapid changes we’re experiencing in the world. We believe Edmit’s mission to provide families with the tools, support, and confidence to ensure they’ll be better off after college continues to be vital.
- Please take care of yourselves and your families, and remember that you are not alone in having hundreds of questions about the future. We’re all in this together! Let us know if we can help in the days and months to come.
- We will continue to update this page with new information and updates as we have them.
From our team at Edmit, we hope you are staying safe and sane in light of the rapid changes we’re experiencing in the world. Like you, we are managing the impact on our families and community and at the same time trying to make sense of what the changes mean for our customers and higher education more broadly.
We believe Edmit’s mission to provide families with the tools, support, and confidence to ensure they’ll be better off after college continues to be vital. Many American families are experiencing big impacts to their own finances which create anxiety and difficulties in their ability to plan and pay for college.
It’s also going to be tougher financially for colleges. Many of them rely on room and board expenses as a source of revenue, and those charges are being refunded to current students and may not apply to future students who might be learning online in greater numbers. Endowments that support colleges’ operations are down with the stock market and could fall further.
With many colleges suspending class and sending students home, colleges are aware they need to better accommodate online learning (at least in the short term, though it may be longer than we’d like). Higher education institutions have been offering more online learning in recent years but that trend has varied greatly college to college, with some doing so more rapidly than others.
But just because classes shifts online does not make a college education less important. It is still one of the most impactful investments you can make in your and your family’s future. So what does COVID-19 mean for college finances? As you can imagine, there are many things we do not know - but some we do. Here are some of the major impacts we’ve observed so far on the college admissions process and on college students - as well as our advice.
Please take care of yourselves and your families, and remember that you are not alone in having hundreds of questions about the future. We’re all in this together! Let us know if we can help in the days and months to come.
- College visits and admitted student days are being cancelled as campuses close.
Advice: If you were relying on those to help you make your decision, you should seek alternative ways to evaluate your options. Follow the colleges on your list on social media, look for virtual college tours to give you a sense for the campus environment - and if you can connect with current students at a college, they are likely to be home and willing to speak with you about their experiences.
- Admitted students may have more time to make their college decisions as colleges are changing their deposit deadlines in light of all of the disruptions. You may have more time to decide where you’d like to go - at least a month extra in many cases.
Advice: If you haven’t committed to a college yet, you’ll probably want to wait until you understand how they are responding to the coronavirus events and until you have more information about your own personal situation (see below). Keep track of new deadlines in a spreadsheet as you hear about them. The COVID College Choice, an essay from Brennan Barnard, a seasoned college counselor and writer on college admissions, shares wisdom on how to maintain the right attitude and get the information you need as you navigate this decision
- Experts say we may see impacts of the coronavirus into the next academic year.
Advice: If you do plan to attend college in the fall, you should be aware and prepared for the possibility that you will not be on campus with business as usual. Do some extra due diligence about your university’s capacity to support online learning. You can find this information online (Google “[college name] online and look for results from the official university .edu website) or by calling the admissions office. Ask about what portion of students take online courses in order to get a sense for the depth of experience. You can also look for professors at the college on Twitter, many of whom are sharing their experiences of transitioning courses online.
- There is great economic uncertainty right now in the financial sector, and there is likely to be rising unemployment in some industries (e.g. service industries, small businesses, retail). Your family’s finances may well be impacted in the near term depending on your employment situation and where the money for college is coming from.
Advice: there is not yet official guidance from the federal government about how federal financial aid might be impacted by the economy. It’s likely that colleges’ financial realities will shift in light of other changes -- meaning that the money they have set aside for financial aid and scholarships could be impacted. Even if your finances and employment are stable now, it’s possible your family’s financial situation may change or change again. If you do know of any concrete changes to your employment or income now which will impact your ability to pay, you should reach out to the financial aid offices at the colleges. This may take the form of a financial aid appeal.
- College visits and admissions events are being cancelled as campuses close.
Advice: If you are a high school junior and you were considering visiting campuses in the coming months, seek alternative ways to evaluate your options. Colleges are hosting virtual events (see below for a list) and providing more information via their websites. Virtual college tours can give you a sense for the campus environment - and if you can connect with current students at a college, they are likely to be home and willing to speak with you about their experiences.
- Testing dates have been cancelled or delayed for the SAT (live status page) and ACT (live status page). AP tests, make-up tests, and future dates may be impacted.
Advice: Since students won’t have their scores until later in the cycle, they may be interested to explore test optional colleges (though applying test-optional is not always optimal).
Watch a video from the experts at College Coach about standardized testing and COVID-19.
- Schools are closing nationally (here’s a growing resource for parents dealing with this) and there are big disruptions to coursework and extracurriculars as a result.
Advice: Colleges know that this unprecedented situation will have lingering effects into the next application cycle. You most likely won’t be penalized for things that are not in your control. So focus on those things that are in your control, and find your opportunities for growth and development. As best you can, focus on your studies, on developing your personal interests and skills, and on any extracurricular activities that have not been curtailed. Find time for self-reflection. Those things will all help you when the time to apply does eventually come.
- College financial aid policies may be impacted. As noted above, colleges will be facing financial pressures from multiple angles. This may mean they become less affordable - and many might find themselves on shaky financial footing.
Advice: Monitor the news from colleges you’re interested in in light of these possibilities. Don’t assume that scholarship data or net price calculator results from last year will apply. Ask the financial aid office to help you understand what financial aid will be available to you, and be aware that the picture could change over the coming months.
For Current College Students
- Your financial aid is not likely to be impacted for the remainder of the year. While usually universities need approval to convert programs to online and offer financial aid for those, that requirement has been waived for the government for now. There’s one exception: work-study may not be paid out if you are not working those hours.
Advice: if you have questions about whether your eligibility for aid this semester is impacted, it is worth confirming with your financial aid office. Make sure you check on all forms of scholarships and aid.
- Many campuses have sent students home and are offering pro-rated refunds of room and board.
Advice: How much you’ll get, and how to claim it, will be college-specific. See what your university says and follow closely for updates to their policies, as those are likely to evolve. For example, here is a round-up from Boston area colleges.
- Students may have financial difficulties or lack a place to live if they are not able to leave campus.
Advice: If you are in need of an exception or immediate help, reach out to your financial aid office. There may be emergency funds or small grants available (the government has authorized new funding for this), and many colleges are providing alternative options for those that can’t simply ‘go home.’ And by the way - how a college or university accommodates you now is a strong signal of how they support students generally.
For College Graduates
Federal student loan borrowers get some relief: U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced that people with federal student loans will automatically have their interest rates set to 0% for at least the next 60 days, and borrowers who have defaulted on their federal student loans will get a temporary halt from having their wages, Social Security benefits and tax refunds garnished by the federal government. Another helping hand for student loan borrowers is the pending Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, which provides that all loan and interest payments for federally owned student loans would be deferred through September 30 without penalty to the borrower.
Advice: Student loan borrowers with a mix of federal and private loans might want to wait a bit longer to refinance if their debt includes federal debt. There are potentially more subsidies coming for federal loans, and rates could go even lower as the impacts of this pandemic become clearer and longer-lived.
- Having trouble paying down private student loans due to changes in the economy? You aren’t alone.
Advice: If you’re unable to make your private student loan payments, you should probably make a call to your servicer to see what options you have under existing programs rather than waiting for new policies to go into effect. You may qualify for deferment or forbearance programs which pause your payments, or for income-based repayment plans which cap payments based on what salary you’re earning. We recently shared advice on this here.
Here are the resources we’re tracking at Edmit to keep tabs on how COVID-19 is impacting college-going students and their families financially:
- Colleges and Universities Closed/Going Online for COVID-19 with information about colleges and university closures, including visits and information session information (crowdsourced by university administrators and admissions counselors)
- Colleges That Have Changed Their Deposit Deadlines (crowdsourced by admissions counselors)
- The National Association for College Admissions Counseling has a searchable table of college admissions information also.
- Upcoming Virtual College Admissions Events from Colleges (crowdsourced by admissions counselors)
- Virtual College Tours information (crowdsourced and using data from College Board)
- Readings on the Financial Implications of COVID-19: for those wondering about the sector as a whole, a list of articles that address the impact of the pandemic on the higher education industry and colleges and universities, compiled by Kevin McClure, Assoc Prof of Higher Education at UNC-Wilmington
- How to Make College Decisions When Campuses Are Closed (The New York Times)
- The COVID College Choice: How To Pick A College During A Global Pandemic (Forbes)
Note: As you’re aware, the news changes daily, so we’ll be updating this page and list as we learn more. Please email us at email@example.com to suggest updates or changes!