Students Surviving a Pandemic

By Emily Rodriguez

“COVID-19 is going to set apart students who have grit versus those who do not,” says Nora Balli, a rising junior at The University of Texas. As the fall semester quickly approaches the 14.53 million college students in the U.S., many questions are beginning to surface. How am I going to pay tuition? Should I take out loans? Will classes be online? Should I attend community college instead? Though many of these questions may be ambiguous now, only research and time can help make a clear judgment on what steps can be taken.

According to Savi, a social impact technology startup and Student Debt Crisis, a student debt advocacy organization, Gen Z students are the most uninformed generation about COVID-19 student loan relief programs such as the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act. From May 8, 2020, to May 19, 2020, the 46-question survey was conducted on 38,802 student loan borrowers throughout America. The survey was conducted to student loan borrowers in hopes to better understand how COVID-19 destruction remains despite student relief efforts. To both organizations surprise, 36 percent of federal student loan borrowers were unaware of COVID-19 relief, 40 percent did not know that relief could be automatically applied, and a striking 80 percent of private loan borrowers did not know relief also exists for private loans.

In efforts to make the CARES Act less daunting and more comprehensible, Federal Student Aid published a Q and A page to student loan borrowers. It mentions key information about the CARES Act such as the time period of March 13, 2020, to September 30, 2020, in which loan borrowers can temporarily stop payments and have an interest rate of 0 percent. It furthermore goes into detail as to what loans owned by the ED can be eligible for these benefits comparatively as; Defaulted and nondefault Direct Loans, FFEL loans, Federal Perkins Loans, and Defaulted HEAL loans. Though some students are concerned as to how to obtain a loan, many students are more concerned as to how much tuition will be.

Tuition freezes are becoming strikingly more common despite students not having access to several resources on campus. According to The Princeton Review’s 2020 College Hopes and Worries Survey, 99 percent of families mentioned that student aid is necessary for their child to attend college and a staggering 87 percent said it was “extremely necessary.” The frustration of how students will afford college is causing many students to reevaluate how they will receive their college education.

The peril of education doesn’t only affect American students. On July 6, 2020, foreign exchange students obtaining an F-1 nonimmigrant student visa were being threatened to move back home if their university were to be strictly online. On July 8, 2020, MIT and Harvard filed a complaint to the federal district court in hopes to prevent Trump’s administration from permitting the second directive. They mentioned that the administration violated the Administrative Procedure Act, therefore, violating procedures. On July 13, 2020, many large technology groups such as Google, Twitter, and Facebook came forward to support the lawsuit. On July 14, 2020, Trump revoked the second directive, allowing international students to stay in the U.S.

“Universities’ inability to justify the cost is a lack of consideration,” shares Balli. A statement many victims of the coronavirus will agree with regardless of generation, nationality, or degree plan. Though there is not a definite plan to follow during this pandemic, it is important to remain informed. After all, just because students are surviving the pandemic does not mean that they cannot thrive.

As Ariana Olivares, a student surviving the pandemic at Stephen F. Austin State University says, “The most important attribute to a person is having a positive mindset.”