As we usher into the third year with the pandemic afloat, financial struggles haven’t lightened up on many Americans.
Despite the slight improvements towards household income, U.S. citizens continue experiencing lower levels than pre-pandemic unemployment, affecting many Nevadans, even UNLV students.
The unemployment rate has not only affected those outside the classroom, but those inside it. Students are now beginning to feel these financial struggles when paying for classes and textbooks, begging the question: Are these financial struggles going to affect dropout and enrollment rates?
For first year student De’Auviona, a lot of consideration went into just pursuing higher education immediately after high school.
“I had to put a lot of thought into whether I truly wanted to start right away,” De’Auviona said on how the pandemic has affected their decision to pursue higher education.
“Even though it would’ve been a better decision to take a year, it would’ve taken me a lot longer to start school again, but even now, it has left me to consider quite a bit. I had to really take the time to consider what I needed to do just to stay in my classes this semester.”
In addition to De’Auviona’s full class schedule, they work a part-time job to help pay for their classes, like many students. Yet, as prices across the board increase, it has left many students in difficult situations, and education seems to be on the chopping block.
Since the pandemic started, universities have seen a 7.8% decline in enrollment among undergraduate students. Not only are universities observing less enrollment, they are observing drops in full-time enrollment.
It has been no secret that college tuition prices have continued to skyrocket, and alongside this, a degree is no longer a gateway into financial stability. These days it seems closer to financial instability since jobs are not exactly guaranteed post-graduation. Now adding online formats and additional financial stresses due to the pandemic, this unrelenting assault on students has begun to take a toll.
An entire generation of students have been disillusioned. Students have been forced into this corner to make tough, life-altering decisions, choosing between being able to support themselves or their education.
So now, it should not be a surprise to universities when their enrollment numbers are decreasing. As long as these financial stresses continue, pursuing higher education is going to become less and less appealing, especially to those who pay out of pocket.