Spring semesters have begun in colleges across the country. While students are flocking back to their campuses and preparing for their new courses, what problems can they expect to face in the upcoming months?
The coronavirus was a disturbing presence in the previous year, and it will be one in this new year. College students should exercise as much caution as possible on their campuses. They must practice safety precautions like wearing face masks, sanitizing their hands regularly and avoiding unnecessary social interactions.
Ignoring these safety precautions will put their health — and the health of anyone they come into direct contact with — at risk. For instance, spikes in COVID-19 cases at college campuses in the fall were linked to students flouting safety measures and attending parties.
A coronavirus vaccine has recently been introduced as a solution. However, it is not likely to be available to all college students in the immediate future. Healthcare professionals, political representatives and other frontline workers are receiving the vaccine first.
When will it be available to students? There is no clear answer just yet. It appears that college students are nowhere near the front of the line for vaccines and may have to wait until next year to receive them. It’s possible that students will be able to get the vaccine outside of their college administration. When the vaccine becomes more accessible to the public, colleges may enforce mandatory vaccines to keep other students safe and prevent any future outbreaks.
Covid-19 has inevitably affected students financially. Many have lost job opportunities or have watched their income levels drop significantly because of the pandemic. On the other hand, they have received little to no relief for their education costs. Tuition costs remain incredibly high, despite the fact that the majority of classes are being conducted virtually and many amenities have been removed or drastically changed.
Unstable income and high costs are challenges that students will have to juggle in the spring term. So, what can they do about it? They can start by looking at this list of colleges and universities offering tuition discounts throughout the year because of the coronavirus. It’s possible that your institution is on the list, and you can get up to 30% off of the regular rate.
They can also cut educational costs by purchasing gently used textbooks and supplies. They can also return or sell their old textbooks/supplies to collect funds for the new semester.
If it’s possible, they should set aside a small fund for emergencies like car trouble or urgent trips to the dentist. With the emergency fund, they can manage to cover the unexpected costs immediately, even if they had no room left in their budget.
It’s important to have a safety net while building up an emergency fund. If students don’t have enough savings in their fund, and they need to manage an emergency, they can apply for a personal line of credit online to help them resolve the problem quickly. Click here to see the difference between a personal line of credit vs personal loan and to understand how this borrowing option is designed to work. It could be extremely useful.
Students should only apply for a personal line of credit to recover from an emergency expense. It’s not meant for simple, everyday purchases.
College students will likely deal with multiple lockdowns and stay-place-orders throughout the spring term. As long as the coronavirus is still a health hazard to the public, this problem is inevitable. During lockdowns, students will be asked to hunker down in their dorms and limit their interactions to essential trips (getting groceries, seeing the doctor, etc.). These can be announced at a moment’s notice, usually at the behest of the local health department when case numbers are spiking.
A complication that students need to be prepared for is that dormitories may shut down as a safety measure, leaving anyone who does not have an alternative living-space (their parents’ home, an extended family member’s home, etc.) scrambling to find somewhere to stay until the measure is lifted.
Ideally, students who have the income should try to exit the dorms and move into an affordable housing option near the college campus at some point in the year. By moving off campus, students will not be at the mercy of last-minute lockdowns and closures. As long as they make the rent payments, they don’t have to worry about losing their living space during the pandemic.
The strategy is more financially-savvy than staying in the college residences and hoping that the administrators don’t kick students out of the facility. It’s easier to maintain steady payments for rent throughout the year than suddenly come up with emergency travel or housing at a moment’s notice — even with an emergency fund on hand.
COVID-19 will inevitably affect the next semester for college students across the country. It will complicate their finances and living situations. It will abruptly change their campus procedures, leading to lockdowns and closures. The problems will only get more complicated as the case numbers rise.