College Application Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic


This is the third installment of our series of articles on teen and money. These days, college application becomes more and more complicated and time-consuming. Not to speak that sending your child to college is no small task given the cost of higher education. Even worse is the coronavirus pandemic we are in right now raise not-before-seen uncertainties of college applications for high school seniors graduating spring 2021.

We know that 2020 is an unusual year for colleges and universities big or small, public or private. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, some schools are discounting tuition costs for various reasons. For example, Princeton University announced a 10% cut in tuition costs for the full year because students will only be allowed on campus for one semester or less. Others are cutting tuition costs in order to boost freshman enrollments. Therefore, parents need to do a little research if the colleges their teens are interested in have made or will make such move in terms of college costs.

In addition, several trends related to college application and admissions have emerged since the onset of this pandemic. According to some college application surveys taken after the pandemic starts students surveyed generally say they are less likely to attend schools far away from their homes. If this trend continues even after the pandemic is over, it could benefit the students who are willing to look outside their state borders and apply to schools a bit farther from their home state. Generally speaking, many colleges and universities are willing to give out some aid money to attract out-of-state students.

 Another trend emerged from the pandemic is more incoming fall 2020 students have asked colleges for a deferral because of limited college experiences due to remote learning. It was estimated by college application experts that among some elite universities approximately 10% to 15% of incoming freshman class would defer their enrollments. Could this mean more fierce competition among your student’s peers to get into their dream colleges or universities next year? The impact of the deferments on college admissions for 2021 applicants remained to be seen.

Unlike the past, the campus touring is drastically different this year. Some college campuses are closed for in-person learning and consequently these schools opt to offer only virtual campus tours. This alters the experiences parents and students get from what they get from traditional campus tours. Consequently, parents and students need to adjust their strategies to make the most of these virtual tours. One way to find out which schools offer virtual tour is to check with your student’s high school counselor.

Lastly, some previously scheduled standardized tests such as SAT and ACT got canceled due to health concerns. If your student is not happy about his or her test results taken before the pandemic, they need to coordinate the timing of their application with the next available SAT or ACT test they plan to take. You can go to or to check the test schedules.

All in all, parents and their high school senior students are facing a different college application landscape this fall. They need to adjust their strategies and tactics accordingly in order to achieve the best results.