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Highlights from Higher Ed: Student Debt, MBA Job Offers and Enrollment Declines

Average student loan debt was close to $30,000 for Class of 2019

The average student loan borrower who graduated in 2019 owed $29,067, up from an average debt of $28,565 the previous year. Overall, student loan debt “swelled to $1.67 trillion while continuing campus COVID disruptions have left students and their families growing leerier of the costs of earning a degree.” The states with the highest debt levels were Connecticut, New Hampshire, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maine, North Dakota, Minnesota, Maryland, South Carolina and New Jersey. On average, students in Utah, New Mexico, Nevada, Florida, Wyoming, Arkansas, Louisiana, Hawaii, Nebraska and Texas had the lowest amount of student loan debt. “When including those students without student loans, the average class of 2019 graduate had $15,919 in debt, a decline of $730 from the class of 2018.”

Source: University Business

MBA job offers are drying up

Business school students “are bracing for an uncertain job market this coming school year as many traditional corporate recruiters shelve their usual fall hiring plans… A number of big companies, including consulting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers, say there will be no jobs on offer to second-year MBA. candidates, beyond those who interned this summer, looking to lock down a position before they graduate.” Other firms planning to cut back on hiring or adopt a wait-and-see approach include Bain & Co., Ernst & Young LLP, McKinsey & Co. and Boston Consulting Group. “Students who weren’t able to land a summer internship — or had their offer rescinded — fear they could have a tough time finding the job they thought the pricey degree would give them upon graduation…. In a recent survey more than a third of 2021 MBA. candidates have had job and internship offers rescinded or changed because of the pandemic, compared with about 20% of MBAs who graduated this year.”

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Community colleges, for-profits and public four-year, rural institutions suffer largest enrollment drops

Although year-over-year enrollment grew by 3% and 4% at public and private nonprofit four-year colleges, respectively, during the summer of 2020, many other types of higher-ed institutions experienced enrollment declines during the same period. Public four-year schools in rural areas enrolled 8% fewer students than during the summer of 2019, while numbers were down 7% at for-profits and nearly 6% at community colleges. “But enrollment at public and private nonprofit four-year institutions in cities increased nearly 6% and those in suburbs grew by 3%… Black students suffered the steepest declines in undergraduate programs with a decline of 8%, particularly at community colleges with an 11% decline. But Black graduate enrollment increased 3%… Male undergraduate enrollments dropped overall 5.2% and nearly 14% at community colleges, compared to a decline of less than one percent for women.” According to a spokesperson for the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, which released the report, “The equity implications for higher education in the fall are becoming more clear: Many of those most affected by the pandemic also appear to be losing access to college classes, even at community colleges and rural institutions that have traditionally served them.”

Source: National Student Clearinghouse Research Center

No surprise here: The pandemic will speed up shift to online education

Moody’s Investors Service believes “the pandemic will hasten a transformation of higher education business models… [and] accelerate many colleges’ plans to grow their online footprints, though not all schools have the resources to invest in digital infrastructure… They will also likely expand nondegree and certificate programs.” Schools that had not yet embraced online learning before the pandemic will probably struggle with the most in the years ahead. According to a Moody’s executive, “Some universities previously resistant to change will have to take more expansive steps to adapt to this transformation. Not all universities, however, have the resources or culture to move quickly and the Coronavirus will expedite existential threats for some.”

Source: Education Dive