College Plans Are Changing Due to the Pandemic, CSF Reports

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By Mark Kantrowitz

June 4, 2020

More than a third (37%) of high chool students are changing their college plans because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a College Savings Foundation (CSF) survey.

Of the students who said that their plans for after high school have changed, two-fifths will enroll in a community college to save on college costs, up from a quarter prior to the pandemic. 

An additional 15% are going to choose a public 4-year college instead of a private 4-year college because of the pandemic. 

A quarter are planning on taking a gap year to save money and wait out the pandemic.

“The COVID-19 health crisis is causing many young people to change and adapt their plans,” said Vivian Tsai, chair of the College Savings Foundation.

A third of high school students say that the pandemic is affecting college financial planning. More than half (54%) said that at least one parent had been laid off. More than two fifths say they expect to take on more student loan debt to pay for college. 

A third also said that the stock market decline had affected their college savings plans. Half said that this would affect their college planning. 

More than a fifth of high school students said that concerns about social distancing and self-quarantining will change their higher education plans. Of these, two-fifths said that they would attend a college closer to home. 

Almost a fifth of high school students said that they would change their career plans because of the pandemic. Nearly a third said that they will change their field of study to healthcare and 29% said that they will focus on fields where telework is a possibility and layoffs are less likely.

One in six students said that they are more aware of their personal finances because of the pandemic. They said that they will save more to prepare for possibility of economic disruption. 

The College Savings Foundation surveyed 1,024 high school sophomores, juniors and seniors in May 2020. 

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