How COVID-19 Is Affecting College Financial Aid
No One Expected The Coronavirus To Halt So Much Of Our Daily Lives...
In the world of college admissions, however, things that used to be straightforward are now much more tricky to navigate, especially for students who are dependent on financial aid programs. Financial aid is often a major factor in a student’s ability to attend college, and the unexpected school closures or switch to online class formats caused by the coronavirus could directly impact students’ financial aid options.
Luckily, colleges took action and implemented helpful plans for students who depend on their financial aid packages each semester. Thanks to these efforts, there are plenty of things students can do to ensure they don’t lose their financial aid during the coronavirus outbreak.
The Current State Of The Coronavirus
When the coronavirus surfaced in early 2020, colleges weren’t expecting to make changes that would affect their operations for almost a year to come. While COVID-19 has been a rapidly evolving situation, a majority of U.S. colleges had an action plan prepared, especially for students who depend on financial aid.
At the moment, every college is functioning differently and making their own choices for how to proceed in this complex situation. Some colleges are still unsure about fully re-opening in the fall, while others are considering blending online and in-person classes based on the percentage of students that feel safe returning to school. In both scenarios, a student’s financial aid can be dramatically affected if they don’t take the proper precautions.
How COVID-19 Could Affect Your Student’s Financial Aid
When it comes to understanding how COVID-19 could directly affect a student’s financial aid, there are multiple possible scenarios. Ultimately, regardless of your student’s specific situation, the best move would be to contact your student’s college, specifically their financial aid office, and remain updated on the latest adjustments they make with regard to COVID-19.
LACK OF ATTENDANCE
Since many colleges chose to transition to online class formats, some students have found it difficult to consistently attend video sessions and turn in classwork. The problem with this is found in how a student’s participation and progress is often directly linked to their financial aid.
A lack of attendance in classes will inevitably lead to a drop in a student’s grades and their aid may be paused or taken away as a result. This notion can also be applied to students who use work-study programs to fund their education; without a job to go to, they also have no financial aid.
THE SUMMER MELT
Before the coronavirus, the “summer melt” was something college admission officers closely monitored. Every year, without fail, a certain percentage of students back out of their enrollment in college in the fall. This can be due to many factors, namely exciting job opportunities, a simple change of plans, or more commonly, changes to their budget. With the coronavirus, students may now be frustrated with the sudden switch to online classes and the swath of campus closures, leading them to postpone their college education.
Students may be more inclined to drop out of their enrollment in college for the fall due to a lack of funds as well. They may also see this as the perfect time to take a gap year and try something different. With this decision, financial aid is rarely paused and is instead usually completely halted.
CHANGES AT HOME
The coronavirus has impacted families too, which directly affects students. COVID-19 brought a huge wave of layoffs and furloughs within the professional workplace and also resulted in a dramatic stock market crash in early March 2020.
If a student’s household is experiencing financial hardship from a recent lay-off or furlough, they may need an increase in financial aid. Thankfully, many financial aid offices at colleges have ways of adjusting a student’s aid especially in an unexpected circumstance like this. Contact your student’s financial aid office to learn about your options.
What To Do To Keep Your Child’s Aid Secure
While COVID-19 has caused countless disappointments and inconveniences, parents can take action to ensure that their students don’t lose their financial aid.
The most important and helpful thing to do is to contact the financial aid office at your student’s college and ask for updates. Continue to update them as well on your family’s financial situation and ask about any adjustments they can make to help your student stay enrolled in college at the price you can afford.
Be vigilant about any COVID-related emails your child may receive in relation to their financial aid as well. In recent months, harmful scams have surfaced on the internet posing as the COVID Relief Fund and offering a stimulus check to students in exchange for personal financial information. Make sure your child knows to only open emails from their school, and to read the fine print carefully before clicking on any suspicious links.
Also, make sure that you continue to fill out the FAFSA, as this vital financial aid document must be updated every year, even during this health crisis.
Overall, keep in touch with your child’s college financial aid department and keep them updated. Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions, especially ones that pertain to adjusting your child’s financial aid. It can be done, you just have to ask and stay on top of the FAFSA’s deadlines.
No one could have predicted such a difficult school year with the coronavirus at the forefront. Colleges are doing the best they can to ensure that students don’t lose their enrollment or their much-needed financial aid. WeAdmit is closely monitoring the situation as well and our professional counselors are available 24/7 to help students with any financial aid questions they may have. Not only that, but we’re also running a webinar discussing how to navigate the many changes COVID-19 is creating in the world of college admissions. Don’t miss out!
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