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Iowa Universities Monitoring How Pandemic Will Affect Fall Enrollment

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In a new national survey, 40% of high school seniors who already have decided on where to go for college say they are not receiving adequate information about how COVID-19 may affect their enrollment. (Adobe Stock)
In a new national survey, 40% of high school seniors who already have decided on where to go for college say they are not receiving adequate information about how COVID-19 may affect their enrollment. (Adobe Stock)
April 13, 2020

AMES, Iowa -- The coronavirus pandemic could have a lasting impact on certain facets of society, including higher education.

Two of Iowa's largest schools are preparing for how the situation will impact fall enrollment.

A new national survey by the consulting firm Simpson Scarborough says one in five high school seniors believes he or she won't attend college this fall because of the public health emergency.

Katharine Johnson Suski, admissions director at Iowa State University, says while the school hasn't seen applications being withdrawn, it does know that many families are in difficult situations and that the school is ready to help.

"If they have a loss in income, or change in income, there is a special conditions form that students and families can complete," she explains. "And our financial aid office has actually doubled the number of staff members who are going to be reviewing those special condition forms to make sure we can get answers to students quickly, and support them financially the best we can."

Suski says Iowa state also is maintaining contact with incoming students from other countries who might be restricted from entering the U-S because of the pandemic.

Out of safety concerns, the University of Iowa has suspended on-campus visits for prospective students, and instead is offering virtual information sessions for families to learn more about the school.

Both schools also are making accommodations for students who don't have access to their transcripts.

Suski says Iowa State is trying to be mindful of the bind seniors are in as they finish their high school careers.

"What we have committed to our students is that this eighth semester of their high school experience will not negatively impact them, either in admissions or in scholarship determination," she explains.

The two universities say it's too early to say whether the situation will result in a decrease in enrollment. Both schools are coming off enrollment declines from last fall.

Mike Moen, Public News Service - IA