July 22, 2020
Headlines, especially of late, can be controversial. The alleged pending death of higher education has been recent headline fodder, including “The End of College as We Knew It?” “On Collegiate Death And Dying,” “The Oddsmakers of the College Deathwatch,” and the more optimistic, “Disrupting the Disruptors: Why Traditional Higher Education Isn’t Dead Yet.”
I’m not a gambler, but as the president of a nonprofit prepaid tuition plan, I think the odds are with America’s higher education system, recognizing that change is necessary. Research finds those most affected by the Covid-19 economic fallout in the U.S. labor market include those with less education. College Board’s Education Pays 2019 report found that those who have “higher levels of education earn more, pay more taxes, and are more likely than others to be employed.”
Yet, the Covid-19 pandemic may disrupt the plans of many students who had intended to return to — or start — college this fall. Fifty-six percent of college students say they can’t afford tuition, according to OneClass, which surveyed more than 10,000 freshmen, sophomores and juniors from over 200 U.S. colleges and universities. Roughly half of undergraduates said that because of the pandemic’s impact on their finances, they will need to rethink how they will pay for school.