This is only the beginning. If colleges continue to remain only half open and enforce strict rules for behavior due to the pandemic, it will only get worse.

The Boston Globe reports:

Enrollment plummeted at many New England colleges this fall

Many New England colleges experienced unprecedented enrollment declines this fall, as students opted out of remote learning or job losses pushed tuition out of reach, putting further pressure on financially struggling institutions.

At more than two dozen colleges and universities across the region, the number of full-time graduate and undergraduate students plummeted by more than 20 percent this September compared with the previous year, according to the New England Commission of Higher Education, the regional accrediting agency.

Another 50 colleges saw their enrollments drop by between 10 and 20 percent, according to Lawrence M. Schall, president of the accrediting agency.

“[The pandemic] will accelerate the financial pressures,” Schall said. “The schools that were weak coming in are going to be weaker coming out.”

Colleges nationally have also seen enrollments decline. According to a survey of more than 9.2 million students, released Thursday by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, undergraduate enrollment fell by 4 percent, driven in large part by first-year students opting not to attend college this fall. Total undergraduate and graduate enrollment is down 3 percent nationally compared to the same time last year.

Nationally, there are 16 percent fewer first-year students attending college, and the erosion is even sharper at community colleges, where first-year enrollment plunged by more than 22 percent, according to the clearinghouse.

The pandemic has hit community colleges and many of the students they serve — low-income, working parents, and Latino and Black degree-seekers — particularly hard. The public health crisis of the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing effect on the economy have meant job losses and additional child care responsibilities for these students and have forced many to shelve their college plans.


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