As information about the coronavirus continues to evolve, we’re learning more about the changing reality of higher education. The safety and well-being of our customers, employees, and our communities are the top priority, so we’re pulling together the information we have that may help students and their families prepare for what’s next in their education.
The new ‘norm’ for schools:
According to Education Week, as of April 22, more than 124,000 schools across the country have been impacted by COVID-19, affecting more than 55 million students. In an effort to continue education and coursework, many teachers have turned to online learning.
Families are quickly responding by reimagining their home schedules and resources to accommodate this change in approach. Naturally, you might have questions about what’s next including the investments and steps you’re taking to enroll or stay in college. Or, if you’re already graduated, you may be wondering how you’ll to move forward financially.
High school students and parents
If you’re a high school junior or senior, coronavirus doesn’t only mean you’re out of class for a few weeks (or months). It also means you may be sacrificing the end-of-year memories you’ve looked forward to all year, including prom and possibly even graduation. While it’s disappointing, we know it’s necessary for your health and the health and safety of your community.
You might be wondering what’s going to happen to some of your other plans, especially those related to college. What about college tours and your application and decision deadlines? Or, if you’re a junior, what about your SAT/ACT?
Here’s what we know:
- College tours and events: College visits are an important part of the decision making process, so rather than forgoing any type of visit, consider a virtual campus tour. There are comprehensive (and impressive) resources online that will let you take a tour without leaving your house. You can also follow colleges and universities on Instagram and other social media platforms to see what kind of activities and events have taken place there.
- Decision Day: If you’re a high school senior, May 1 may be marked on your calendar as a deadline for your decision (and enrollment deposit). That said, in response to the coronavirus, many schools have already announced they’ll be moving the decision deadline. If you’re unsure about the schools you’re considering and their respective deadlines, check their website or email their financial aid offices.
- SAT/ACT testing: High school juniors have some important milestones, too. While SAT and ACT testing have been a core requirement in college admissions, many schools around the country have deemed them ‘optional’ in light of COVID-19. As of April, College Board cancelled all testing date through June. The first date still on the calendar for testing is on August 29. The original ACT testing date of April 4 has been pushed back to June 13, but there are July and August options that students may consider in the case of any June cancellations.
- Financial aid: If you or your student is a high school senior, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, is probably something you’ve seen or heard about. If you haven’t filled it out yet, now’s the time. If you’ve filled it out already and started to receive financial aid offer letters from schools, that’s great. That said, your family’s finances may be affected by the coronavirus. It’s a possibility that family’s income could look different in the coming months compared to when you filed your taxes last year (which is what the financial aid offices use to determine your aid eligibility). If things do start to change, you’re not alone, and your college’s financial aid office may be able to help. Email and let them know what’s changed. You may need to file an appeal or discuss other forms of aid, like work-study and scholarships.
College students and parents
If you or your student is already in college, there are serious and critical changes happening in light of coronavirus.
- Leaving campus: As tens of thousands of college student were forced to leave campuses in light of state mandates, it’s possible students are facing new challenges like food insecurity. If you’re a college student who needs assistance because of displacement, please contact your school’s financial aid office. Emergency financial aid has been put in place to help students in higher education to help address basic needs including food, housing, health care, and childcare needs. In addition, UHaul is offering free storage to students who are displaced.
- Refunds: Schools across the country are examining the possibility of partially refunding room and board. In some instances, refunds will be issued on a pro-rated basis. Email your financial aid office to learn more about their plans, and carefully consider how you’ll use the refund.
Student loan customers repaying loans
If you have a student loan and are in repayment, you may be wondering what to do if you can’t manage your loan payments.
If you have federal student loans, reach out to your federal student loan servicer. If you have private student loans and need help, reach out to your lender. Most have programs in place that will help you postpone payments.
If you’re a Sallie Mae private student loan customer, we can help you postpone payments while keeping your account in good standing. You can chat with us via SallieMae.com or access your account anytime by using SallieMae.com or the Sallie Mae App to view transactions, check a balance, make payments, change passwords, and more. More information is available at SallieMae.com/coronavirus.
As the information we receive on coronavirus evolves, we will continue to share tips and resources. Please check out the latest information regarding the coronavirus, precautionary tips, and up-to-date travel guidance at the CDC coronavirus site.