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College Students Faced with Increasing Economic Hardship

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College students face continued economic hardship as a result of the pandemic, according to a recent national survey of more than 11,000 full and part-time students. As a result, six percent of students report leaving higher education altogether. The data give cause for concern about college dropout rates in an era where 60% of students work full- or part-time and first-year enrollment has declined 13% since October 2019.

According to the survey, fielded one year after Course Hero’s inaugural survey of student emergency needs, the challenge of paying for internet access and computer equipment has actually grown since last March. More than 60 percent of respondents now report that food and rent remain their top two financial needs.

“This research underscores the extent to which students are struggling with basic financial needs. That was true before the pandemic, and now the problem is significantly exacerbated,” said Andrew Grauer, CEO and co-founder of Course Hero. “These findings serve as a wake-up call when it comes to addressing the new majority of learners who are balancing their educational aspirations with work and family obligations. No student should need to decide between college and the cost of living.”

Other findings from Course Hero’s “Coronavirus and the Cost of College” survey include:

  • 28% of students report job loss, with 22% receiving unemployment benefits.
  • Just half (56%) of students believe they are getting their money’s worth from college, as remote learning continues to dominate the higher education experience. White students were twice as likely to question the value of college than Black or Latinx students.
  • Community college students are least likely to question the value of their education than students enrolled in four-year degree programs.
  • Despite ongoing concerns about value, just 18% of students report receiving discounts on tuition.
  • Forty percent of students are changing their educational or career plans as a result of the pandemic. Sixteen percent of students reported a change in their course of study and an equal percentage reported a change in their career plans.
  • Seven percent of students reported changing institutions and 6% have left higher education completely.

Edited by Maryssa Gordon, Senior Editor, Price of Business Digital Network

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