Despite coronavirus crisis, students remain committed to higher education plans

80 percent of high school juniors and seniors still plan on attending post-secondary education

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The coronavirus pandemic has caused tremendous economic uncertainty, but American families are working hard to make sure students still get to follow through on their higher education aspirations.

A new survey released by Sallie Mae and Ipsos found that 80 percent of high school juniors and seniors still plan on attending post-secondary education – an increase from 75 percent who said they would in January.

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Expectations, however, appeared to have changed slightly; a higher percentage of students thought they would take some online classes, 57 percent in April compared with 49 percent in January.

And 30 percent were concerned that they may have to use their college savings for other necessary expenses.

“High school families are worried and feel uncertain because of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the situation is currently seen as temporary,” Jennifer Berg, director at Ipsos, said in a statement. “Despite living in this turbulent time, these families are just as, if not more, committed to their plans for their high school student’s future.”

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Though students may remain committed to higher education, some of their plans may have changed.

Andrew Pentis of Student Loan Hero told FOX Business that future college students have been considering options like taking a gap year or attending community college – as opposed to a pricier private institution – as a means to lower risk and cut costs.

“Many students may have had grand plans of attending expensive private schools on the other side of the country,” Pentis noted. “It’s certainly not an easy situation.”

Despite concerns about the economy and finances, only about 61 percent of students said they had completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by April. As previously reported by FOX Business, families collectively miss out on billions of dollars in free federal grant money per year by failing to apply.

Pentis also said current and future college students were left out of the CARES Act, remaining largely ineligible for economic impact payments issued to other American adults.

However, they may score some relief if an additional round is passed by lawmakers.

Democratic Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed recently proposed an extension and expansion of the boost in unemployment benefits, which would create a $300 federal benefit for recent college graduates and students.

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A number of schools have begun committing to reopening their campuses for in-person classes this fall, including Notre Dame, the University of South Carolina and Ithaca College.

On the other hand, the California State University System said it will hold remote classes during the 2020 fall semester.

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