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Decision Day in Quarantine: Choosing a College in the Midst of Covid-19

This month high school seniors are deciding where (or if) they are heading to college in the fall. Coronavirus is making this decision a lot more complicated.

Families applied for financial aid based on income and finances from their 2018 tax return, but for many their financial picture has changed dramatically. See our blog on Negotiating Financial Aid Amid the Coronavirus. Some schools have extended decision deadlines and are working with students whose circumstances have changed, but it may not be enough time for some families. As families wait to see which colleges will provide the most financial support, they are double or even triple depositing by accepting offers for multiple schools thus adding even more confusion for colleges adjusting financial aid packages. Ultimately, coronavirus could have a significant impact on student’s college decision. We think some students will choose public schools closer to home over expensive private schools, particularly those near coronavirus hot spots. With campuses shut down and campus visits impossible, the safe choice may seem like the wisest. But, we do not want any student to give up on their dream school because of fear. While it is an admirable trait to be flexible and willing to change direction if circumstances demand, it is equally important for students to not let a short term roadblock derail a life dream. There is not one right answer; each family must evaluate their current and future circumstances to make the best college decision. We certainly believe that current events will continue to shape the way students and their families make decisions about higher education in the future, like putting more emphasis on schools’ online education offerings versus brick and mortar offerings as we all come to understand that stay at home orders may become a more common occurrence until a vaccine is available.

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