Covid-19 Will Lower College Enrollment, Then Boost It

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to upend American life, colleges and universities are bracing for a significant drop in student enrollment. The American Council on Education, a higher education lobby group, projects that on-campus college enrollment will fall by 15% in the fall semester, costing institutions about $23 billion in foregone revenue. That’s enough of a hit to the sector to force many college campuses to close. But schools that can remain open through the pandemic are poised to capture a surge in enrollment, once it’s safe for students to return to the classroom.

It’s almost certain that college enrollment in the coming academic year will drop. Even if the pandemic is under control to an extent that campuses can reopen by the fall, students may be reluctant to sit in crowded lecture halls while the virus remains at large. If the pandemic is still too dangerous to allow in-person learning to resume, most colleges will move instruction online. Many students will balk at the prospect of paying full tuition to learn from their computers, especially those at expensive private colleges. Either scenario promises a short-term fall in the number of students enrolled.

Read the full commentary from The Manhattan Institute – a think tank focused on the major challenges facing today’s universities, including rising costs, the lack of intellectual pluralism, and the failure to provide students with a substantive education.