Returning to Campus Post COVID-19

In Brief:

  • With the 2021-2022 school year now here, we look at what institutions are doing differently, what students are most excited about, and what effect the pandemic has had on tuition and enrollment.

  • Three out of four United States colleges and universities plan to open their campuses to some or all students this fall.

  • Since COVID-19 is still a concern, many institutions will continue to have their health and safety measures in place, like offering on-line learning options, requiring masks for anyone on campus, and having social distancing in some more populated areas.

Blog Post

The pandemic changed the ways many students got to experience life on college campuses — and it was anything but traditional. These students missed out on in-person classes, living in residence halls, and attending sporting events; all major parts of the traditional college experience. With the 2021-2022 school year approaching, we look at what institutions are doing differently, what students are most excited about, and what effect the pandemic has had on tuition and enrollment.

Institutions Requiring COVID-19 Vaccinations

Fall is fast approaching and for the first time in over a year, many students will be returning to college campuses across the country. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, every three out of four United States colleges and universities plan to open their campuses to some or all students this fall. Since COVID-19 is still a concern, many institutions will continue to have their health and safety measures in place, like offering on-line learning options, requiring masks for anyone on campus, and having social distancing in some more populated areas. So far, over 650 higher education institutions in the United State are requiring their students to be vaccinated. This list includes institutions like California State University, the country’s largest four-year public university system. However, not all higher education institutions are requiring vaccinations. Many are taking precautions for their staff and students per the CDC Toolkit for Colleges and Universities.

Eager Students Just Want Normalcy

For those students seeking a normal return to campus, many are looking forward to being social again. Indiana University recently interviewed a small groups of students and many of them had the same answer to what they are looking forward to the most: being on campus in person, and seeing classmates and professors face to face. These personal interactions many students once found as mundane are now the one thing they are seeking most. This transition back to in-person classes may take some patience from both the students and the professors as they all find their way back to their old practices.

The Effect on Tuition and Enrollment

The pandemic caused a lot of financial hardships for many people over the past year, and students were no exception. Because of this, many institutions froze tuition for the upcoming 2021-2022 school year. Not only was this a great incentive for their current students, but this could potentially be a draw for those students looking to enroll. But will this be enough to keep enrollment numbers up?

Recently, the America’s Promise Alliance conducted a survey of high school students on how the pandemic has affected their future college plans. A majority of the students surveyed said they experienced “tremendous upheaval in their families, schools, and communities over the past academic year,” with almost one in five reporting their future education plans were impacted a great deal. Additionally, one-third (34 percent) of young people report changing their plans to attend college closer to home and one-quarter (24 percent) plan to attend a two-year instead of a four-year institution. Meaning state intuitions could see a possible increase in in-state enrollments as could many two-year institutions.

As campus life continues to return, it may not look like it once did in the fall of 2019. With administrators being enthusiastic to have to their campus communities back, along with safety measures and requirements in place, maybe this fall those students who missed out on so much in 2020, can make this year feel almost normal again.

As students return, does your campus need help handling tuition payments? Learn more about how Nelnet Campus Commerce’s Tuition Management can help your business office with auto-payments for reoccurring payments, saving you time and your students stress.

Author: Natalie Schwarz

Natalie Schwarz creates and edits internal and external communications as a Communications Specialist with Nelnet Campus Commerce. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Creative Writing and has over a decade of professional writing experience. When she’s not crafting communications, you can find Natalie enjoying the outdoors with her husband and their twin boys or scoping out an estate sale.

View all posts by Natalie Schwarz