A Quarter of Young Americans Delay College Because of COVID

By Hannah Claire Brimelow

A new survey reports 25 percent of 2020 high school graduates delayed their college plans because of COVID-19. 

Unemployment and financial insecurity triggered by the global pandemic made sky-high tuition prices even more unattainable for students. 

According to the 2021 Junior Achievement Teens & Personal Finance Survey, “nearly three-in-four (72%) Class of 2020 high school graduates planning to attend college expect their parents or guardians to pay at least part of their college education, and among them, 37 percent say their parents or guardians will cut back on their planned financial support for college education due to COVID.” 

Tuition for the 2020-2021 school year included averaged $35,087 for private universities, $21,184 for public, out-of-state schools, and $9,687 for public, in-state schools. 

For many students and their families, loans are the only way to pay for college. The U.S. Department of Education’s data shows older American makeup the fastest-growing demographic for student loan debt. They will likely be paying off debts from their own loans or those incurred on behalf of a dependent into their 90s, reported Breitbart in June.  

The Daily Mail reported that “according to Government statistics released in January, 42.3 million people, or one in six adults, in America have a student debt. The average outstanding loan amount is $36,520.” 

Canceling student loan debt was a theme throughout Biden’s presidential campaign. He pledged to cancel up to $10,000 of debt for each student. More recently, he seems to distance himself from the favored political promise. On May 20 in an interview with the New York TimesBiden said “The idea that you go to Penn and you’re paying a total of 70,000 bucks a year and the public should pay for that? I don’t agree.”  

COVID-19 may also have altered Generation Z’s attitudes toward college. Even though “the pandemic forced most schools to adopt test-optional admission policies” and “applications soared at the nation’s most selective schools,” according to Forbes, “data from the National College Attainment Network has shown that nearly 10% fewer high school students are completing the federal student financial aid form known as the FAFSA.” 

Many students oppose new requirements from hundreds of colleges mandating they be vaccinated for the coronavirus before returning to campus. Others find that the price tag is simply not worth it when vocational training is a less expensive, faster way to a career. 

survey found in the fall of 2020 that “83 percent of high school seniors said they would pursue two- and four- year college programs upon graduation, down from 88 percent in 2019” and “five percent more said they would attend trade school, get a job or enter the military than in 2019.” 

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