COVID Unemployment impacts college plans

Scott Reckers | Staff Writer

College has a lot to offer: higher education, social life and making new connections and friends; unfortunately it has an achilles heel, the cost.

According to the U.S department of education the average tuition & fees for colleges in Ohio the academic year 2019-2020,  is $7,588 for in-state and $17,131 for out-of-state. High prices mixed with the global pandemic putting countless students out of jobs does not mix well. Senior Kathryn Marshall has to pay for a portion of her college education, a task that has come increasingly difficult due to her lack of hours this summer. 

“Not working this summer at all has been a little bit stressful,” Marshall said. “Especially because college isn’t that far away. I am thinking about getting a second job once my sports seasons end because I don’t think school, sports, and 2 jobs is a good idea. But it definitely has been a bit stressful.”

Marshall is not the only one to be put out of work, The US Department of Labor reports 23.2% unemployment for teens alone in June, 2020. Before the pandemic unemployment for teenagers was sitting at 12.5%. Marshall said that everybody that she works with will also be keen to get back to work and in combination with the new restrictions which may have less staff on the clock, there will be less hours to go around.

“We are limiting the amount of people in the theaters so I could get less hours,” Marshall said. “They are only bringing back a few staff workers at a time, and we aren’t having anybody at the usher position so there will definitely be less hours to go around. I am going to have to pick up a lot more hours once my sports seasons are over.”

MHS teacher College 101 teacher Cindy Donnelly helps students prepare for college through her course and said that she believes one key aspect for students in a similar situation is searching and finding the money in scholarships. Donnelly said that she knows it can be tedious, but if you put in the work, results will show.

“When students are applying to college they need to look at the scholarships offered by the university and the need to make sure they apply early action so that they are considered for any of those scholarships,” Donnelly said. “You may apply to 30 scholarships and only get one, but it’s still one. Small scholarships add up, it may only be a 500 dollar scholarship but think about how many hours you have to work to make that much. You won’t know if you get it unless you try. There is a lot of money out there you just have to go out and find it.”

The National Association of Student Financial Aid Admissions foresees the need for financial aid to go up by more than 50% this year due to many others in a similar situation to Marshall. Marshall says that she is doing everything she can to stay on top of this crucial source of capital that will help immensely in her collegiate finances.

“I know I will be able to get what I need to get done for college,” Marshall said. “I have already applied for scholarships, I am aware of student aid and loans and I might be in debt at the end, but I’ll get it paid off.”

Luckily, Marshall said that she did not have her eyes on any out of state options, as they are far more expensive. The U.S department of education states that the average out of state tuition and fees for the 2019-20 school year were $17,131.  While Marshall is still looking local, she said that she knows that it doesn’t mean she won’t have to hustle to stay afloat.

“Right now I am looking at University of Cincinnati, Ohio State University, and Miami University, really just local colleges,” Marshall said. “I was planning on having a job in college anyways but now I almost don’t have a choice, overall I don’t think I will impact me that much, I might have to pick up some more hours but I’ll be fine.”

Marshall models the rational decisions that Donnelly promotes in her own class. Donnelly said that she knows how stressful this time can be for upperclassmen, but still works to help them make their future plans reasonable. Though she knows the idea of college is new and exciting, Donnelly said that she is hopeful that students are aware of the costs now so they don’t drown in debt later down the line.

“It’s okay to have college debt but when students take out loans they don’t think about when the loans have to be paid back,” Donnelly said. “Even when in college be aware of where and when you spend your money. People always say ‘I want to go to my dream school.’ Your dream school should be one where you can graduate debt free.”