Colleges are very anxious about who will actually show up when campus opens and what they will be able to pay.

It’s early April and many colleges have already moved their May 1 Commitment Deadline to June 1. They expect to be calling students off the wait list well into July.

Administrators, Admissions Counselors and Directors of Financial Aid are all scrambling. The current position on which they all agree is that everyone needs to be flexible.

Please note that in the headline, I used the phrase “when campus opens” without being able to be more specific. Social distancing and on campus life are mutually exclusive. Depending on numerous factors that neither parents nor the university control, the college may not be allowed to open the campus. This would mean the fall semester is taken remotely or not at all. A few smaller colleges have already decided to not admit a freshman class.

The issue of financial aid is especially troubling. Colleges expect that every students’ family, from incoming freshmen to next year’s graduating class, has experienced a significant reduction in their updated Expected Family Contribution (EFC). And tuition bills are twelve weeks from the mail. Colleges cannot possibly meet this surge of financial need. Everyone from the colleges have said they are going to bend over backwards to be understanding and flexible. There are no guarantees.

As we move through April, a month where financial aid offers are sweetened, parents will experience the colleges’ heightened urgency to fill classrooms and dorm beds. I think it is very likely that the 2020-21 college year will be an experiment. The question is whether the colleges will offer a price reduction while your child participates in the experiment of what college learning cold be like in the future.

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