ByJackson Schulte/IowaWatch and The Scarlet & Black |
GRINNELL, Iowa – Some Grinnell College seniors have chosen to finish their undergraduate days by staying in town, even though the college sent most of their peers home for the rest of the school year and canceled the spring graduation ceremony because of COVID-19. They’re staying in town for a variety of reasons but mainly to continue living in homes for which they’re contractually obligated to pay rent and to make their final months as seniors feel meaningful. “My
rent here is paid, it’s sort of a sunk cost,” Pete Zelles, 22, a senior from
St. Paul, Minnesota, said. “I realized that the majority of my friends are
staying because they’re in the same position.
Grinnell College acted ahead of other colleges and universities in the state when moving students off campus and canceling spring graduation. Now, students are figuring out how to handle that when they return to classes – virtually – from spring break.
The threat of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, is forcing educators across the country to think about what they’ll do if they have to close their schools for weeks or even months at a time. State and federal agencies have advised schools to create online learning plans to minimize the disruption to student learning. For some schools, that’s a small leap. Their students have internet connections at home, laptops they can work from, teachers who know how to design online lessons and a strong foundation of in-school blended learning experience. But the fact is, these schools are rare.
This story about immigrant students was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education. IowaWatch is the exclusive Iowa partner. Sign up for the Hechinger newsletter. SIOUX CITY, Iowa — The rolling backpack was grey with bright orange zippers. Made by Totto, a popular South American brand, the backpack had been 13-year-old Cristian Rubio’s hand luggage on his flight from Ecuador to the United States a week earlier.
The projected sticker price for Iowans wanting to attend a private college or university in-state will exceed $60,000 annually by 2024-25 at nine private Iowa schools and 10 the following school year in 2025-26, The Hechinger Report projected after studying tuition and cost-of-living trends for higher education institutions nationwide via Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) data. Our report includes a podcast.
While rising education costs and growth in amenities and luxury housing have played a role in pressing up the cost of attendance — also called a university’s “sticker price” — a great deal of college tuition inflation has been driven by an enrollment strategy to dole out more institutional aid to a growing number of students. The practice is also known as price-discrimination, and two Iowa educators have a study showing it can discriminate against low-income, underrepresented minorities.
Beginning and attending college or graduate school can be a major life transition for many students. It especially becomes difficult, however, for students with mental illness who move away from home and care designed to deal with their specific health care problem.
As the price of tuition steadily increases at many colleges and universities, borrowing money often becomes the only means to pay for education, Iowa college students said in interviews as the current school year ended. Students at Coe College, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, saw a constant rise in tuition over the last four years. They were expected to pay $40,670 in the 2015-16 academic year but that has become $45,230 for the 2019-20 school year. Neither amount includes room and board. Leslie Ortiz, 21, from Houston and a junior this past school year, estimated that she will have loans totaling $38,000 by the time she graduates.
You become aware at Cornell College that school leaders take pride in the Mount Vernon, Iowa, college’s small class sizes and bonds students, professors and staff members make. But the college’s modest enrollment of about 1,000 also means a smaller pool of tuition-paying students supporting facilities that attract people to the school. Tuition increases become a natural part of the college. Parents can help their children prepare for college costs by saving for them, Pamela Perry, the college’s director of financial planning and assistance, said. “I think a lot of families aren’t really thinking that far down the road yet,” she said.
Some students graduating from an Iowa college or university this month will have to pay off debts that could be close to $100,000. Other loans facing college students are far lower and a lot of students have avoided debt. But for many, taking out loans remains necessary in order to go to college, an IowaWatch College Media journalism project showed. “I don’t wanna’ be in debt, but I made the decision to come to school and I think for most students, when they make that decision, it’s kind of already married to the decision to take students loans as well,” Nick Hodges, finishing his senior year in communication studies and writing at Coe College, said. Hodges, 28, from Crawfordsville, Indiana, was one of several students interviewed at eight Iowa college campuses this spring for the IowaWatch project.