Sweeping changes to how colleges will engage with students and the costs associated with what many see as undesirable changes to the traditional college experience are guiding the thinking of students and their families as they continue to navigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to new research from Citizens.
In its third annual Student Lending Survey, which surveyed current college students and high school juniors and seniors, Citizens found that a majority of both high school (55%) and current college students (53%) said that concerns around public health and safety had a high impact on their plans post high school and for Fall 2020 college enrollment.
However, the research also showed that a significant minority of respondents are planning to stay the course, with 42% of both high school students and current college students saying that public health concerns had no or a low impact on their future plans.
Despite public health concerns, paying for college continues to be top of mind for high school students and parents, as 64% of high school students and 52% of parents of high school students say affordability had a high impact on the student’s post high school plans. Furthermore, 44% of current college students and 35% of parents of current college students said that concerns around affordability had a high impact on their Fall 2020 enrollment plans.
“The last few months have certainly added to the stress that families across the country experience when they think about how best to finance their children’s education,” said Christine Roberts, head of Student Lending at Citizens. “Our survey shows that young adults are not immune to the impact of the pandemic and continue to be worried about their future. This year is more important than ever for families to have conversations around paying for college and that financial institutions continue to help their customers navigate these unique times and provide support for economic stability.”
Weighing uncertainties and benefits
Both high school and college students expressed wariness over the benefit of attending college in the current COVID-19 environment. Approximately 4 in 10 high school students (42%) and current college students (39%) said that such concerns had a high impact on their future plans while nearly a third of high school students (29%) and current college students (32%) said it had a low impact. Meanwhile, 21% of high school students and 25% of current college students said this had no impact on their plans.
Nearly 4 in 10 current college students said that concerns about economic stability (38%) and concerns about the job market (38%) had high impacts on their Fall 2020 enrollment plans. Similarly, nearly half (47%) of high school students said that concerns about economic stability had a high impact on their post high school plans and 44% said concerns about the job market had a high impact on their plans.
In the COVID-19 era, high school and college students are feeling the weight of these uncertainties, along with significant changes to the format their education, as they make important life decisions for their future. After having already completed a turbulent spring semester, 37% of current college students said a disinterest in an online learning format had a high impact on their plans for the Fall 2020 semester. High school students show more concern with virtual learning formats, with 45% saying their disinterest in online learning formats had a high impact on their post high school plans.
Citizens Bank is a leader in student lending and offers numerous borrowing options for credit-qualified students, graduates, along with their families including the Citizens Bank Parent Loan, Citizens Bank Student Loan, and the Citizens Bank Student Loan with Multi-Year Approval. In addition, through its Education Refinance Loan, Citizens Bank is the only national bank to offer refinancing options for both private and federal student loans to credit-qualified borrowers.
Survey Methodology: On behalf of Citizens Financial Group, Comperemedia, a Mintel Company, conducted an online survey of n=1,032 respondents, with n=487 parents of current or prospective college students and 545 students, which included 264 prospective college students (aged 16-18) and 281 current college students. The survey was developed to generate insights that focus on the effects of COVID-19 on college planning. Specifically, this research focuses on the impact of COVID-19 for those who are applying to college in the near future, or who are starting college under the current conditions by talking to both students and parents. This research also focuses on the impact that COVID-19 had on college students this past term, and how that has affected their decisions regarding continued enrollment.
About Citizens Financial Group, Inc.
Citizens Financial Group, Inc. is one of the nation’s oldest and largest financial institutions, with $179.9 billion in assets as of June 30, 2020. Headquartered in Providence, Rhode Island, Citizens offers a broad range of retail and commercial banking products and services to individuals, small businesses, middle-market companies, large corporations and institutions. Citizens helps its customers reach their potential by listening to them and by understanding their needs in order to offer tailored advice, ideas and solutions. In Consumer Banking, Citizens provides an integrated experience that includes mobile and online banking, a 24/7 customer contact center and the convenience of approximately 2,700 ATMs and approximately 1,000 branches in 11 states in the New England, Mid-Atlantic and Midwest regions. Consumer Banking products and services include a full range of banking, lending, savings, wealth management and small business offerings. In Commercial Banking, Citizens offers a broad complement of financial products and solutions, including lending and leasing, deposit and treasury management services, foreign exchange, interest rate and commodity risk management solutions, as well as loan syndication, corporate finance, merger and acquisition, and debt and equity capital markets capabilities. More information is available at www.citizensbank.com or visit us on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook.