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Bay Area colleges, universities face lower enrollment rates due to coronavirus

Bay Area

(SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — “No one could’ve planned for this type of financial emergency. No one.”

Bay Area colleges and universities face lower enrollment rates for the next academic year because of the coronavirus.

Smaller private schools are expected to experience huge financial losses with less tuition coming in.

“We know it’s not going to look the same. It’s not so that’s where the scenario planning comes in,” Kristen Soares said. “Will it be fully reopen? Will we do some classes still online, some classes in person?”

Soares, president of the “Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities” or AICCU, says they’re hoping for the best but planning for the worst come fall.

The AICCU represents 85 independent, nonprofit colleges and universities in the state — including Santa Clara University, University of San Francisco and California College of the Arts to name a few.

All bracing for financial setbacks.

“All of higher education, public and private, nonprofit, we’re all in this together but we do have a unique set of challenges. We’re not state funded institutions. we’re not state supported institutions,” Soares said “Most private, nonprofit colleges are tuition dependent which means we’re enrollment dependent so that financial modeling is something we’re certainly looking at.”

The American Council of Education projects a 15% drop in national enrollment for the 2020-2021 academic year — something that gap year programs feel as interest increases.

“We’re seeing that there’s much bigger demand this year than there has been in previous years,” she said. “I think the last time we saw this demand was when Malia Obama took a gap year.”

Charlie Taibi is the CEO of “Year On”, a gap year program based in San Francisco where students travel and volunteer abroad and later attend workshops in the city.

Taibi says they’re seeing more interest from students and parents who don’t want to pay the hefty tuitions for online learning.

“A lot of students have a lot of screen fatigue at this point or have apathy towards online classes,” she said.

However the coronavirus also affects gap year programs.

Instead of traveling abroad, they’re looking at alternative experiences in the states.

Either way, students are forced to make life changing decisions during a time when nothing is certain.

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