College students living in dorms experienced a major upheaval when on-campus life came to a screeching halt in March. The COVID-19 crisis forced them to hastily empty their dorm rooms and pack up to move home. Now, colleges want them to come back even though many aren’t exactly sure what they have to offer.
College’s are expecting new and returning students to commit for the fall semester, but many parents and students are finding it hard to sign contracts, pay deposits, and plan for the future. Many college’s have yet to provide assurance that on-campus living will be worth the Room & Board rates the college collects, especially if students can’t reap the benefits of the bustling dining halls, social activities, and recreational facilities that are included in the price.
Parents and students are also facing an unprecedented upheaval in their financial situations. For most people, the income they reported on their FAFSA applications, which is used to calculate scholarships and grants for the 2020-21 school year, is completely different now due to layoffs and loss of business revenue. COVID-19 Economic Stimulus Payments also left out college students who are still claimed as dependents by their parents; students did not receive the $1200 per person payment, and their parents did not receive the additional $600 per child payment for them either.
Thankfully, St. Clair County Community College isn’t being negatively affected by these issues. Bonnie DiNardo, Director of Community and Alumni Relations for SC4, said they are “cautiously optimistic for the fall.” SC4 is already seeing an increase in fall enrollment, and they are also seeing an increase in guest-student applications, which indicates more students are choosing SC4 for the fall instead of going back to their “home” college.
Recent high school graduates and their families definitely have a complex decision to make. In-district tuition for two full-time (12 credits) semesters at SC4 costs around $3,264 compared to around $24,152 for tuition and room & board at Oakland University. That difference, along with the uncertainly of what exactly they are paying for, may be prohibitive for some families experiencing financial hardship.
Reporting for WGRT – Jessie Wiegand